In an Addiction analysis of relevant published studies, investigators found some evidence for a positive association between anxiety during childhood and adolescence with later alcohol use disorders.
Approximately 43 percent of associations were positive, meaning that anxiety was associated with a higher likelihood of later alcohol use disorders; however, 11 percent of associations were negative, with anxiety being associated with a lower likelihood of later alcohol use disorders. Approximately 30 percent of associations were equivocal and 15 percent were unclassifiable based on the information reported.
The authors of the analysis noted that it is important to establish which anxious individuals consume more alcohol and develop alcohol use disorders in order to develop targeted interventions.
"The evidence from prospective cohort studies is suggestive but not conclusive of a positive association between anxiety during childhood and adolescence and subsequent alcohol use disorder," said lead author Maddy Dyer, of the University of Bristol, in the UK. "Associations of anxiety with later drinking frequency or quantity and binge drinking were inconsistent. Further research is needed to understand why there are differences in associations for consumption levels versus problematic use, and to determine which individuals with anxiety develop alcohol problems."