Behrendt, S., Bühringer, G., Perkonigg, A., Lieb, R., Beesdo-Baum, K.

Characteristics of developmentally early alcohol use disorder symptom reports: a prospective-longitudinal community study


Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 131, 308-315


Background: There is little prospective-epidemiological information on symptoms of DSM-IV-alcohol use disorder (alcohol abuse and dependence; AUD) that may be typical for early AUD stages or the developmental periods of adolescence and early adulthood. Aims: To investigate AUD symptoms (AUDS) cross-sectionally at three subsequent assessment waves regarding prevalence rates, symptom counts, associated drinking patterns, positive predictive values (PPV) for DSM-IV-alcohol dependence (AD), and AUDS stability over time. Methods:N=2039 community subjects (baseline age 14-24 years) participated in a baseline and two follow-up assessment(s) over up to ten years. DSM-IV-AUDS, DSM-IV-AUD and craving were assessed with the DSM-IV/M-CIDI. Results: Over the assessment waves, tolerance and much time were most and role obligations and withdrawal least frequent. Most subjects with DSM-IV-AUDS reported only one symptom (47.2-55.1%). PPV for DSM-IV-AD only exceeded 70% for activities, problem, withdrawal, and desired control ; PPV were lowest for tolerance and hazardous use. For most AUDS, AUDS report compared to non-report was associated with elevated drinking frequency and amounts. Stability of baseline AUDS at four-year and ten-year follow-up did not exceed 36.4% for any symptom. Conclusions: The overall pattern of most/least frequent AUDS reported in adolescence and early adulthood resembles findings in older adults and does not suggest a developmentally specific symptom pattern. Moderate AUDS-stability and considerable remission rates indicate that AUDS in this age group are transient for a considerable proportion of subjects. However, the associations with elevated consumption indicate that AUDS reports early in life need to be taken seriously in prevention and intervention.


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