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Associations Between Psychiatric Disorders and Alcohol Consumption Levels in an Adult Primary Care Population

Unhealthy alcohol use frequently co-occurs with psychiatric disorders; however, little is known about the relationship between psychiatric disorders and alcohol consumption levels. Understanding varying levels of unhealthy alcohol use among individuals with a variety of psychiatric disorders in primary care would provide valuable insight for tailoring interventions. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 2,720,231 adult primary care patients screened for unhealthy alcohol use between 2014 and 2017 at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, using electronic health record data. Alcohol consumption level was classified as no reported use, low-risk use, and unhealthy use, per National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines. Unhealthy use was further differentiated into mutually exclusive groups: exceeding only daily limits, exceeding only weekly limits, or exceeding both daily and weekly limits. Multivariable multinomial logistic regression models were fit to examine associations between 8 past-year psychiatric disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa) and alcohol consumption levels, adjusting for sociodemographic and health characteristics. In the full sample [53% female, 48% White, mean (SD) age = 46 (18) years], patients with psychiatric disorders (except eating disorders), compared to those without, had lower odds of reporting low-risk and unhealthy alcohol use relative to no use. Among patients who reported any alcohol use (n = 861,427), patients with depression and anxiety disorder, compared to those without, had higher odds of exceeding only weekly limits and both limits; patients with bulimia nervosa were also more likely to exceed both limits. Findings suggest that patients with anxiety disorder, depression, and bulimia nervosa who drink alcohol are more likely to exceed recommended limits, increasing risk of developing more serious problems. Health systems and clinicians may wish to consider implementing more robust screening, assessment, and intervention approaches to support these vulnerable subgroups in limiting their drinking.

Authors: Palzes, Vanessa A; Parthasarathy, Sujaya; Chi, Felicia W; Kline-Simon, Andrea H; Lu, Yun; Weisner, Constance; Ross, Thekla B; Elson, Joseph; Sterling, Stacy A

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2020 12;44(12):2536-2544. Epub 2020-11-05.

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