Studies of alcohol habits in general psychiatric populations are scarce. The objective was to investigate alcohol and drug use, smoking, and gambling in a clinical sample of psychiatric outpatients. A further aim was to study age and gender differences in the rates of these habits.
Data were collected among psychiatric outpatients with mainly mood (47%) and anxiety (35%) disorders. A questionnaire package was distributed, including AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), DUDIT (Drug Use Disorders Identification Test), tobacco items, and gambling items. Two major drinking categories were formed: "Nonhazardous alcohol use" (NH) and "Alcohol use above hazardous levels" (AH).
In total, 2160 patients (65% females) responded to the questionnaire package. The AH rate was high among psychiatric outpatients (28.4%), particularly among young females (46.6%). Young female patients also reported a high prevalence of problematic drug use (13.8%). Problematic drug use, daily smoking, and problematic gambling were frequent. The unhealthy habits were linked to AH.
Alcohol and drug use, smoking, and gambling are all highly prevalent among psychiatric outpatients. Young females are in particular need of attention. Interventions should be tailored for co-occurring psychiatric disorders and applied within routine psychiatric care.