(HealthDay News) – Use of alcohol to self-medicate mood symptoms correlates with increased odds of subsequent alcohol dependence and persistence of dependence, according to a study published online May 1 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Rosa M. Crum, MD, MHS, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a prospective study using face-to-face interviews among 43,093 adults surveyed in 2001–2002, 34,653 of whom were re-interviewed in 2004–2005. The authors sought to examine whether self-medication of mood symptoms with alcohol correlated with the probability of subsequent onset and persistence of alcohol dependence.

The researchers found that alcohol self-medication of mood symptoms correlated with increased odds of incident alcohol dependence and persistence of dependence at follow-up (adjusted odds ratio, 3.1 and 3.45, respectively). The population-attributable fractions were 11.9% and 30.6%, respectively, for incident dependence and persistent dependence. Analyses were stratified by age, sex, race/ethnicity, severity of mood symptoms, and treatment history for mood symptoms.

“Drinking to alleviate mood symptoms is associated with the development of alcohol dependence and its persistence once dependence develops,” the authors write. “Drinking to self-medicate mood symptoms may be a potential target for prevention and early intervention efforts aimed at reducing the occurrence of alcohol dependence.”

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