Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University found that drinking alone during adolescence and young adulthood strongly increases the risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD) later in life. This risk is especially high for women.
The research is published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence and was conducted by Kasey Creswell et al.
Excessive alcohol use is a worldwide burden, contributing to 3 million deaths globally each year.
Doctors often screen young people for risky alcohol use, but their questions have focused on the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed.
In the study, the team examined about 4,500 adolescents (age 18) about their patterns of alcohol use and whether they consumed alcohol while alone.
These participants were then followed for 17 years, providing information about their alcohol use and drinking alone in young adulthood (ages 23/24) and reporting AUD symptoms in adulthood (age 35).
Results showed that adolescents and young adults who reported drinking alone were at increased risk for developing AUD symptoms in adulthood compared to their peers who only drank in social settings.
They found the odds of having AUD symptoms at age 35 were 35% higher for adolescents who drank alone, and 60% higher for young adults who drank alone, compared to social-only drinkers.
Adolescent females who drank alone appeared to be at particular risk for developing future alcohol problems in adulthood.
About 25% of adolescents and 40% of young adults reported drinking alone.
These findings suggest that targeted interventions may be helpful to educate and inform these groups, especially young women, of the risks of solitary drinking to prevent the development of AUD in the future.
The team says with concurrent increases in pandemic-related depression and anxiety, they may very well see an increase in alcohol problems among the nation’s youth.
If you care about drinking, please read studies about drug combo that shows promise for treating alcoholism, and recovery from alcohol use disorder is complicated but achievable
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