The Links Between Social Anxiety Disorder, Insomnia Symptoms, and Alcohol Use Disorders: Findings From a Large Sample of Adolescents in the United States

Heidemarie Blumenthal, Daniel J. Taylor, Renee M. Cloutier, Catherine Baxley, Heather Lasslett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is associated with increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Most of the current literature has focused on the role of acute stress responding in this relation; however, both SAD and AUDs also are linked to insomnia symptoms (i.e., difficulty falling or staying asleep). As adolescence is a sensitive period for the onset of these disorders, the present study examined if insomnia symptoms might partially account for the SAD-AUD link in a large sample of adolescents. Data from the National Comorbidity Survey–Adolescent Supplement were examined. Participants (N = 10,140) completed interviews to assess past 12-month SAD and AUD diagnostic status as well as insomnia symptoms. Analyses tested whether insomnia symptoms accounted for a significant proportion of the SAD-AUD relation. Results indicated that insomnia symptoms were positively related to both SAD and AUD status, and the relation between SAD and AUD status was significantly reduced when insomnia symptoms were included in the model. Findings remained significant after controlling for the effects of age, gender, posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and other drug dependence status. Experimental examination and intensive longitudinal assessment of these relationships are needed before strong conclusions can be inferred about causality and temporal relationships. The current findings do indicate insomnia may be an important indirect and stigma-free treatment target to address in prevention and treatment efforts for SAD, AUDs, and their co-occurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-59
Number of pages10
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • alcohol
  • insomnia
  • social anxiety
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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