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Research and Practice

Internalizing Symptoms and Alcohol Involvement

The goal of this project is to use existing prospectively gathered data to examine the pathways from initial alcohol use through transitional phases that lead to alcohol dependence.

Although prior clinical and population-based studies have provided strong evidence for the co-morbid relationship of internalizing symptoms such as anxiety and depression with alcohol use, there is still relatively little data that provide information on the relationships of anxiety and depressive symptoms in the potential etiologic pathways towards alcohol dependence. In this project, using prospectively gathered data from early childhood (grade 1) through young adulthood, and based on a conceptual framework that incorporates the life-course developmental model, two specific studies were proposed.

The first study aimed to assess the association of anxiety and depressive symptoms with risk for onset of varying stages of alcohol involvement:

  • The report of opportunities to use alcohol
  • Initiation and use of alcohol
  • Occurrence of alcohol-related problems
  • Development of alcohol abuse and/or dependence

The second study proposed to examine trajectories of comorbid internalizing symptoms with alcohol involvement using latent class analysis. We proposed to:

  • Empirically define the underlying structure of alcohol involvement at each developmental stage and examine its relationship to anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Examine the effects of internalizing symptoms on the progression across stages of alcohol involvement using latent transition analysis
  • Characterize patterns of growth in drinking behavior and their relationship to internalizing symptoms

This project aims to address some of the gaps in our knowledge of relationships between anxiety and depressive symptoms with alcohol involvement.