Harmful alcohol use is known to increase the risk of alcohol dependence as well as physical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cirrhosis.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a common co-occurring disorder in people with mental health conditions. This can negatively impact the course and treatment outcomes.
Researchers in Singapore have investigated the prevalence and nature of hazardous alcohol use among those with schizophrenia and depressive disorders taking into account sociodemographic and clinical factors, and severity of depression and anxiety. They also assessed the link between alcohol use and the quality of life of psychiatric patients.
A total of 310 patients participated in the study which involved completing a set of clinical measures.
Results found that:
- The prevalence of hazardous alcohol use was 18.8% among patients with depression and 6.4% among patients with schizophrenia.
- Patients who were unemployed were more likely to engage in hazardous drinking compared to participants who were students or employed.
- Patients with severe anxiety were 9 times more likely to engage in hazardous alcohol use than those with mild anxiety
- Patients with severe depression were 5 times more likely to engage in hazardous alcohol use than those with minimal depression
- Current smokers and ex-smokers were about 15 times and 13 times more likely to engage in hazardous alcohol use as compared to non-smokers
- Harmful alcohol consumption was particularly associated with lower quality of life in the physical health domain.
Overall the research emphasised the link between severity of depression and the risk of hazardous alcohol intake. This highlights the importance of both conditions to be treated jointly and for thorough screening to help with early identification of issues.