According to a new research study from a group of researchers at the University of Bristol, there is a link between anxiety disorder at the age of 18 and a harmful pattern of drinking three years later.
Published in the journal Drug and Alchohol Dependence, the study shared evidence to prove the link between anxiety and later alcohol use as the researchers accounted for other factors such as adolescent smoking and cannabis use, and parental anxiety and alcohol use.
“Helping adolescents to develop positive strategies for coping with anxiety, instead of drinking alcohol, may reduce the risk of future harmful drinking. However, we cannot determine if the relationship is causal because we used an observational study design,” said Maddy Dyer.
Questionnaires and clinical interview data from more than 2000 participants were used that found the link between generalised anxiety disorder and frequent drinking in a few years later.
Harmful drinking was measured using a special test developed by the World Health Association.
On average, adolescents with anxiety drank at more harmful levels regardless of whether they tended to drink alcohol for coping reasons or not.
“Our own research has shown that links between mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders, and alcohol are common and complex,” said Mark Leyshon, Senior Policy and Research Manager at Alcohol Change UK.
For example, anxiety can be both a result of stopping drinking and a risk factor in beginning to drink too much, as this new study suggests.
“We need more research to help us better understand the connections between alcohol and mental health, as well as high-quality, accessible, integrated support for substance misuse and mental health issues,” Leyshon added.