Objective: To examine the association of adolescent depression and anxiety symptoms with alcohol abuse or dependence in young adulthood.
Design, setting and participants: Cohort study of the health and wellbeing of adolescents and young adults in Victoria, assessed at 8 waves (periods) of data collection, from age 14 to 24 years, between 1992 and 2003. Young people who participated in the cohort study at least once during the six adolescent assessment points (conducted 6 months apart, from age 14 to 17 years), at least once during young adulthood and who were alive at Wave 8 (n = 1758).
Main outcome measure: Alcohol abuse or dependence assessed using the alcohol and substance abuse modules of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview at age 24 years.
Results: Adolescents with moderate to high levels of depression and anxiety symptoms (measured by the revised Clinical Interview Schedule) had an increased risk of alcohol abuse or dependence in young adulthood, compared with young adults with low levels of adolescent depression and anxiety symptoms, after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Risk was higher for those with symptoms at more than two adolescent assessment points (odds ratio [OR] 1.9; 95% CI, 1.7-2.0) and for those with symptoms at one or two assessment points (OR 1.3; 95% CI, 1.2-1.4), compared with those with no above-threshold symptoms in adolescence.
Conclusions: Adolescents with depression and anxiety symptoms are at increased risk for alcohol use disorders into young adulthood. They warrant vigilance from primary care providers in relation to alcohol use well into adulthood.