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J Subst Abuse. 2000;11(1):7-15.

Substance use and non-clinical panic attacks in a young adult sample.

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Northern Illinois University, DeKalb 60115, USA.


This study examines panic attacks and substance use in a non-clinical, young adult sample. Two hundred seventy-nine college students completed questionnaires that assessed non-clinical panic attacks, alcohol and drug use behavior, and anxiety and depression symptoms. Non-clinical panickers (n = 25) were significantly more likely than non-panickers (N = 222) to report using sedatives, but not alcohol, cocaine, stimulants, or other drugs. Among non-clinical panickers, sedative use was not associated with distress about panic attacks, panic attack frequency, the occurrence of unexpected attacks, or general anxiety or depression symptoms. Coping-motivated alcohol use, though not associated with non-clinical panic, was significantly associated with anxiety and depression symptoms. These results are discussed in terms of theories of the co-morbidity between substance use and panic disorder.

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