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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000 Nov;8(4):493-508.

Physiological alcohol dependence symptoms in early adulthood: a longitudinal perspective.

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  • 1Missouri Alcoholism Research Center and Department of Psychology, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211, USA.


The developmental course of physiological dependence on alcohol was investigated by estimating the prevalance, stability, and prognostic significance of individual tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, prospectively over 7 years, in 450 young adults. Different prevalence rates and patterns of stability were observed with alternate tolerance items. Consistently low base rates were observed for all withdrawal items. Person-level stability of tolerance and withdrawal indicators was moderate at test-retest intervals of 1 year and increasingly modest at longer intervals. Reporting tolerance and withdrawal in early adulthood was associated with a substantial risk for later alcohol use disorder. Results suggest that the likelihood of experiencing tolerance or withdrawal symptoms may vary as a function of an individual's stage of development and drinking history. Implications for future assessment and classification of alcohol dependence are discussed.

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