Alcohol and tobacco use disorder comorbidity in young adults and the influence of romantic partner environments

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Sep 1;132(1-2):149-57. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.01.017. Epub 2013 Feb 19.


Background: Although there is considerable evidence that the development of tobacco dependence (TD) and that of alcohol use disorder (AUD) are intertwined, less is known about the comorbid development of these disorders. The present study examines tobacco dependence and alcohol use disorder comorbidity in young adulthood within the context of romantic partner relationships.

Methods: Data were drawn from the Seattle Social Development Project, a contemporary, ethnically diverse, and gender balanced longitudinal panel including 808 participants. A typological person-centered approach was used to assign participants to four outcome groups: no disorder, tobacco dependence (TD) only, alcohol use disorder (AUD) only, and comorbid (both). Multinomial logistic regression was used to determine the association between partner general and substance-specific environments and single or dual alcohol and tobacco use disorder diagnosis in young adulthood (ages 24-33, n=628). Previous heavy alcohol and tobacco use were controlled for, as were dispositional characteristics, gender, ethnicity, adult SES, and adult depression.

Results: Greater partner conflict increased the likelihood of being comorbid compared to having TD only or AUD only. Having a smoking partner increased the likelihood of being comorbid compared to having AUD only, but having a drinking partner did not significantly distinguish being comorbid from having TD only.

Conclusions: Findings demonstrated the utility of a comorbidity-based, person-centered approach and the influence of general and tobacco-specific, but not alcohol-specific, partner environments on comorbid alcohol and tobacco use disorders in young adulthood.

Keywords: Alcohol use disorder; Comorbidity; Nicotine; Partner conflict; Romantic partner; Tobacco dependence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tobacco Use / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult