Anxiety disorders linked to alcohol dependence

People with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) are more likely to drink heavily in adulthood, a new study has revealed.

The research, published by the University of Bristol, strengthens existing evidence that suggests that people with anxiety disorders are more susceptible to drink and drug abuse.

To conduct the research, more than 2,000 adult participants with GAD were asked to complete a questionnaire based on their drinking habits.

It found that within this demographic, there were significantly more cases of “frequent drinking”, “binge binging”, “hazardous drinking” and “harmful drinking”.

This trend continued up until the age of 21.

The researchers found that “drinking to cope” with stressful situations was a major contributor to weekly alcohol intake.

Although drinking can temporarily sedate and relax people with GAD, alcohol and drugs can have serious consequences if you’re being treated for anxiety.

Commenting on the paper, author Maddy Dyer said: “Our most important finding was that the relationship between generalised anxiety disorder and harmful drinking at age 18 persists into early adulthood.

“Helping adolescents to develop positive strategies for coping with anxiety, instead of drinking alcohol, may reduce the risk of future harmful drinking.”

Mark Leyshon, Senior Policy and Research Manager at Alcohol Change UK, added: “Our own research has shown that links between mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders, and alcohol are common and complex. For example, anxiety can be both a result of stopping drinking and a risk factor in beginning to drink too much, as this new study suggests.”

The study comes after similar research found that around one in five people with social anxiety disorder suffer from alcohol dependence.

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