Impaired serum cortisol stress response is a predictor of early relapse

Alcohol Alcohol. 2003 Mar-Apr;38(2):189-93. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agg052.


Aims: to investigate a possible association of cortisol stress response during early abstention with relapse.

Methods: Thirty-six alcohol-dependent males, half of them with a comorbid anxiety disorder, and 15 healthy controls were exposed to a standardized psychosocial stress test. Thirty-one of the patients were assessed for relapse 6 weeks after discharge.

Results: The relapsers showed almost no cortisol responses in the stress test. Comorbid anxiety disorder influenced neither stress response nor relapse.

Conclusions: During early abstention from alcohol, reduced stress-responsivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis seems to be connected to early relapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / blood*
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety Disorders / blood*
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Area Under Curve
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recurrence
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Temperance


  • Hydrocortisone