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Psychiatric comorbidity with problematic alcohol use in high school students.

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  • 1Oregon Research Institute, Eugene 97403-1983, USA.



To delineate the degree to which various levels of problematic alcohol use are associated with psychiatric disorders in adolescents.


The lifetime occurrence of psychiatric disorders was examined in a community sample of 1,507 older adolescents (aged 14 through 18 years) who were categorized according to their alcohol use (i.e., abstainers, experimenters, social drinkers, problem drinkers, and abuse/dependence group).


Increased alcohol use was associated with the increased lifetime occurrence of depressive disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, drug use disorders, and daily tobacco use. There was a trend for increased alcohol use in girls to be associated with anxiety disorders. More than 80% of adolescents with alcohol abuse/dependence had some other form of psychopathology. Alcohol disorders, in general, followed rather than preceded the onset of other psychiatric disorders. Comorbidity was associated with an earlier age of alcohol disorder onset and with greater likelihood of mental health treatment utilization.


Rates of psychiatric comorbidity with problematic alcohol use in adolescents are striking and represent an important therapeutic challenge.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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