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life events, substance use disorders, clinical




Substance use disorders are characterized by a variable course, in which multiple treatment attempts and relapses are typical. Consistent with conceptualizations of substance use and relapse, life events have been implicated in contributing to poor substance use disorders treatment outcomes. However, inconsistencies in empirical findings regarding the life events-substance use disorders outcome literature have been previously observed. This review provides an updated critique of the literature since the previous review published in 1987 (O'Doherty & Davies, 1987), examining the relationship between life events and substance use disorders treatment outcome among clinical samples of individuals. Review of 18 peer-reviewed articles suggested that data on the life events-outcome relationship continue to be inconclusive. Inconsistencies across studies in the operationalization of life events and substance use treatment outcomes and lack of theoretically driven designs may be contributing to differences in findings. Recommendations for future research that will increase the clinical utility of the life events construct are provided.

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