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An Experimental Test of Telephone Aftercare Contacts with Alcoholics

J. L. Fitzgerald, H. A. Mulford

Alcoholics from two hospital-based treatment centers participated in an experimental test of the effects of extended aftercare on inpatient recovery rates. At discharge from inpatient treatment, subjects were randomly assigned either to an experimental group scheduled to be called by a center counselor every 2 weeks for 1 year or to a control group that experienced only the usual treatment. Follow-up interviews conducted approximately 12 months after hospital discharge found that the experimental group had no higher recovery rates than the control group. There was weak evidence that the calls reduced the burden that alcoholics place on community control and service agencies. There was no evidence that either the phone calls were more effective for some patients than for others or that some kinds of phone calls were more effective than others. Although most subjects said they liked the calls, wanted them to continue and perceived them as “good treatment,” only one subject gave the calls credit for helping him maintain sobriety.