Researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) are trialling a new
intervention for young people, aged 17 to 24, who experience anxiety symptoms and drink
alcohol at harmful levels.
Senior Research Fellow, Dr Lexine Stapinski said the transition into early adulthood is a unique
and important period when the risk of developing anxiety and alcohol use disorders is increased.
“The reasons that young people drink have a long-term impact on adverse outcomes,” Dr
A study of more than 2,000 young people, conducted in collaboration with the University of
Bristol, found that drinking was more common among young people with an anxiety disorder and
teenagers who drank to cope with anxiety or depression were two times more likely to progress
to higher risk drinking as young adults.
Despite the profound potential impacts, less than one in four young people with a mental health
or substance use disorder seek help for these problems.
The inroads program was developed in response to these findings and in consultation with young
people. It combines therapist phone/email support with an internet-delivered cognitive
behavioural therapy (CBT) program.
“Inroads is an early intervention adapted from our effective anxiety and alcohol use disorder CBT
program for adults and utilises online content that is relevant and engaging for young people,
including contemporary images and design,” Dr Stapinski said.
“The internet-based CBT program, paired with email/phone support, avoids common barriers for
those seeking treatment, such as judgement, stigma or time constraints.
“By offering early intervention in a format young people are receptive to, inroads has the potential
to dramatically reduce the considerable burden of anxiety and alcohol use problems.”
Young adults, aged 17 to 24, who drink to cope with the symptoms of anxiety, nervousness,
stress or worry are invited to participate in the trial which commenced in December 2017.
For more information, or to refer a young person to the program, please visit the inroads website.
In 2017, Australian Rotary Health provided funding to support an efficacy trial of the inroads
program. The project is led by Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance
Use (CREMS) members Dr Lexine Stapinski, Associate Professor Andrew Baillie, Associate
Professor Nicola Newton and Professor Maree Teesson. The research team includes Dr Mark
Deady, Erin Kelly, Katrina Prior and Briana Lees.
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