The prognosis of 221 patients first admitted in 1941-1954 for dependence on sedative-hypnotic drugs was determined in a record-linkage and interview study concluded in 1984. Different outcomes were related to admission characteristics by means of the Cox proportional hazards regression model. An excess of unnatural deaths was noted; suicides in 11% of the men and 23% of the women. Of those with primary sedative-hypnotic dependence, 46% continued to abuse drugs till death or follow-up, and of those with a primary or concomitant alcohol abuse 72%. An unfavorable outcome was significantly related to primary psychiatric symptoms before the first admission, concomitant alcohol abuse, familial drug and alcohol abuse and health care occupation.