BACKGROUND: Demoralisation is a multidimensional concept, with helplessness and hopelessness as its key elements. Many patients, both in somatic and in mental health care, suffer from demoralisation. In the process of recovery, remoralisation constitutes a first step.
AIM: To investigate demoralisation in alcohol-dependent inpatients with co-occurring psychiatric disorders.
METHOD: Included in this study were 159 alcohol-dependent inpatients admitted to clinics for dual diagnosis. Demoralisation was assessed at treatment entry and again one month later.
RESULTS: A strong level of demoralisation was found, particularly in the co-occurrence of depression, anxiety and personality disorders. At treatment entry, 92% of patients was clinically demoralised and, one month later, this was 89%. In patients with co-occurring depression, mood and personality disorders, a significant decrease of demoralisation was found after one month, whereas in patients with developmental and psychotic disorders this was not the case. In 11% of patients there was clinically relevant improvement and in 7.5% there was clinically relevant deterioration; the latter mainly in patients with co-occurring developmental and psychotic disorders.
CONCLUSION: At start of treatment, these alcohol-dependent patients were strongly demoralised, especially in the co-occurrence of psychiatric disorders. Although there was a significant improvement in demoralisation after one month of treatment, patients remained strongly demoralised. In one in ten patients there was clinically relevant remoralisation. As a first step in the process of recovery, clinicians should pay more attention to remoralisation. Targeted interventions, aimed at this specific population, are necessary.