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Teens who are dependent on booze ‘at greater risk of depression’ — is your child at risk?

Teens who are dependent on booze ‘at greater risk of depression’ — is your child at risk?

The U.S. Sun
By Joe Davies
June 1, 2023

STOPPING teens drinking too much alcohol could reduce their risk of depression in their 20s, researchers say.

Eighteen-year-olds who struggle to stop drinking once they start have a 15 per cent risk of facing the mental health condition by the time they’re 24, a study found.

Teens that are dependent on alcohol are more likely to develop depression in their 20s, University College London researchers foundCredit: Getty

For comparison, the chances were 11 percent for those with no dependence in their teen years.

Dr Gemma Lewis, of University College London, said: “Problematic drinking patterns could be a warning sign of future mental health problems.

“Helping young people to avoid problematic alcohol use could have long-term benefits to their mental health.”

Some 11,326 teenagers contacted alcohol and drug services from 2021 to 2022 in the UK, up 3 percent from the previous year.

Of those, nearly half said they had a problem with alcohol, according to the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities.

There were over 40,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions amongst under-24s in 2019.

More than a quarter of these were for mental and behavioural disorders as a result of alcohol.

However, young people are generally drinking less than they used to, with around a quarter of English 15-year-olds having been drunk twice or more in 2017 to 2018.

It was down from 55 percent in 2001 to 2002.

Previous research has linked alcohol abuse to a host of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and psychosis.

Around 16 per cent of adults in Great Britain experienced moderate to severe depression in 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The latest study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry, looked at how drinking in childhood affects depression in later years.

Researchers tracked 3,902 people born in the south west of England in 1991 and 1992.

The signs of teen alcohol abuse

Some prominent signs of teen alcohol abuse to watch for are:

  • A physical reaction to alcohol, such as hangovers
  • Prolonged loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of interest in friends, school, or activities that were once fun
  • Reduced ability to think or concentrate
  • Using alcohol alone or more than their peers
  • Day drinking

Source: Fort Behavioral Health

Signs of alcohol dependence included an inability to stop drinking, failure to meet normal expectations due to drinking, and feeling a need to drink after a heavy session.

Harmful effects such as drink-related memory loss were also considered signs of addiction.

Those who appeared to be dependent at any age from 17 to 22 were more likely than people who weren’t to develop depression at 24.

However, how much people drank in total was not linked to an increased risk — partly because heavy drinking in late teens can be the norm at parties, researchers said.

Dr Gemma Hammerton, of the University of Bristol, said: “Heavy drinking can be a precursor to dependence, and can have harmful physical health impacts in the longer term as well.

“High frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption therefore remain important as targets to prevent or reduce during adolescence.”

Mark Leyshon, of Alcohol Change UK, said: “The findings from this new study reinforce the importance of protecting young people from alcohol harm.

“Early intervention and proper funding of youth addictions services will ensure the right support and treatment is there for everyone who needs it.”