Withdrawal and dependency symptoms among adolescent alcohol and drug abusers

Addiction. 1995 May;90(5):627-35. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.1995.9056274.x.


Due to differences in duration, intensity and topography of alcohol and drug use patterns, the withdrawal and dependency symptoms of adolescent substance abusers may differ from those of adult substance abusers. To explore these potential differences, 166 adolescents recruited from inpatient alcohol and drug treatment programs in the USA were assessed for alcohol and other drug withdrawal and dependency symptoms. Teens were administered the Customary Drinking and Drug Use Record following 2 weeks of abstinence and evaluated for recent (< 3 months) DSM-III-R psychoactive substance withdrawal and dependency symptoms. Adolescents were all multiple substance users with a life-time average of 4.27 drugs used in addition to alcohol. Amphetamines were the most frequently used drug (50% of sample) and the most prevalent withdrawal symptoms were those associated with central stimulant use. However, the number of different withdrawal symptoms (M = 11.27) was greater than expected for uncomplicated stimulant withdrawal or withdrawal from any single substance. On average, participants reported dependency symptoms more than DSM-III-R criteria for the diagnosis of alcohol dependency (M = 3.30), as well as dependency on their two most frequently used drugs. Heavy alcohol and cigarette use were found to exacerbate withdrawal symptoms of other drugs. These findings highlight the importance of assessing adolescent substance abusers for withdrawal from and dependency on multiple substances.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Patient Admission
  • Psychotropic Drugs*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Psychotropic Drugs