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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1990 Dec;13(4):699-713.

Alcohol use and abuse secondary to anxiety.

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  • 1University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City.


The relationship between alcohol use and anxiety is complex. From a clinical standpoint, it is clear that psychiatrists caring for anxious patients must be aware of the possibility of secondary alcohol abuse. For the most part, anxiety disorders are highly treatable conditions, whereas alcoholism is less successfully treated. With this in mind, it is important for the clinician to accurately diagnose anxiety disorders in their patients. Failure to do so may lead a high percentage of patients to the major complication of substance abuse, which itself may be very difficult to treat. Further research to understand the relationship between anxiety and alcohol use is warranted. Future studies should focus on discovering which anxious patients are likely to abuse alcohol. Studies screening patients for the presence of alcoholic traits, such as antisocial behavior or a family history of alcoholism, may help identify anxiety disorder patients who are likely to go on to become alcohol abusers. Researchers interested in the treatment of substance abusers should become acutely interested in the recognition and treatment of anxiety disorder in their patients. Identifying patients with anxiety disorders would be a first step in individualizing treatment for a given alcoholic patient.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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