Social anxiety disorder as a risk factor for alcohol use disorders: a prospective examination of parental and peer influences

Julia D. Buckner, Louisiana State University, Department of Psychology, 236 Audubon Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
R Jay Turner


Elucidation of mechanisms underlying the high rates of alcohol use disorder (AUD) remains a pressing clinical and research concern. Despite data indicating that social anxiety disorder (SAD) may be a psychological vulnerability that increases AUD risk, no known prospective research has examined underlying mechanisms. Given the nature of SAD, social support and peer alcohol use may be implicated. The present study set out to clarify the SAD-AUD link in several ways using a prospective dataset comprised of 1803 (47% female) young adults at T1, 1431 of whom were assessed again approximately 3 years later. First, stringent criteria were used to directly test whether SAD was a risk for AUD. Second, we examined whether social support and peer alcohol use moderated the prospective SAD-AUD link. Structured diagnostic interviews were conducted to assess DSM-IV Axis I disorders, negative life events, social support, and peer alcohol use. Among men, Time 1 (T1) SAD was not significantly related to Time 2 (T2) AUD. Yet, among women, T1 SAD was related to T2 AUD. Further, T1 SAD was the only internalizing disorder to significantly predict T2 AUD after controlling for relevant variables (e.g., T1 depression, other anxiety, alcohol and marijuana use disorders). The SAD-AUD relation demonstrated directional specificity. Family cohesion and adverse family relations significantly moderated this relation. Findings highlight the important role of SAD and familial support in the onset of AUD among women.