A new study reveals that young adults who drink alone are more likely to become addicted to alcohol later in life.
Scientists have found that young adults who drown in their grief unaccompanied have a 60% greater risk of alcoholism when they are 35 years old, compared to peers who drink only socially.
It turns out that 18-year-olds who hit the bottle alone have a 35 percent greater risk of dependence on the beverage.
The risk was higher for women than men.
Young people who drink alone often do this to drown out their sorrows and deal with emotional stress.
US academics and study authors say a quarter of teens and two-fifths of young adults drink themselves.
The team warns that the problem is likely to get worse as the pandemic has left many young people stressed and anxious about their futures.
The association is strong even after accounting for other risk factors such as excessive drinking, drinking often, socioeconomic status and gender.
Doctors often check whether young people are at risk for an alcohol problem, but their questions tend to focus on whether they drink often and often.
The researchers add that the social context in which young people drink is often overlooked.
For the study, the team looked at questionnaire responses from nearly 4,500 18-year-old Americans who were asked about their patterns of alcohol use and whether they drank alone.
They were then followed for 17 years and answered questionnaires again when they were between 23 and 24 years old.
When they turned 35, they reported whether they had any symptoms of alcoholism.
“Most young people who drink do so with others in social settings, but a significant minority of young people drink alone,” said Professor Casey Cresswell of Carnegie Mellon University.
Solitary drinking is a unique and strong risk factor for future alcohol use disorder.
“Even after we consider known risk factors, such as excessive alcohol intake, frequency of alcohol use, socioeconomic status, and gender, we see a strong indication that drinking alone as a young adult predicts alcohol problems in adulthood.
“With concurrent increases in depression and anxiety associated with the pandemic, we may be seeing an increase in alcohol problems among the nation’s youth.”
The team says targeted assistance should target youngsters to help them better understand the risks of drinking alone.
Excessive drinking contributes to three million deaths annually worldwide.
The results were published in the journal Dependence on drugs and alcohol.
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This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.