Making INROADs: Interrupting the cycle of Anxiety and Drinking

image - Inroads Image Website
Date Commenced:
01/2016
Expected Date of Completion:
03/2020
Project Supporters:

Australian Rotary Health

Society of Mental Health Research (SMHR) Early Career Researcher Fellowship to Lexine Stapinski

Drug Type:
Project Members: 
image - Lexine Stapinski 2015 Square
Senior Lecturer
Ph 02 9385 0422
image - Maree Teesson Square
Professor
Ph EA Jasmin Bartlett: 02 9385 0167 / j.bartlett@unsw.edu.au
Project Main Description: 

Anxiety and alcohol use disorders are among the most prevalent and debilitating of mental health disorders, and commonly co-occur. This project aims to address crucial questions about when and how to intervene to prevent the onset and exacerbation of alcohol and anxiety comorbidity.

Project Collaborators: External: 

Dr Jon Heron
Bristol University

Prof Andrew Baillie
Macquarie University

Rationale: 

Anxiety and alcohol use disorders are among the most prevalent and debilitating of mental health disorders, and commonly co-occur. There is limited evidence about the temporal sequence, although the available data suggests anxiety typically predates alcohol use disorders, and the use of alcohol to cope with anxiety is commonly reported. Increasingly, anxiety and alcohol comorbidity is understood as a clinically important mutually-reinforcing relationship, yet current prevention and treatment approaches are limited by single disorder models.

The transition into early adulthood is a unique developmental period, characterized by numerous personal and social role changes. Young adulthood also marks a period of increased vulnerability for onset of both anxiety and alcohol use disorders. The unique challenges of this early adulthood period combined with the emergence of anxiety and alcohol use disorder symptoms require a developmentally-targeted early intervention to empower young adults, enhance anxiety coping skills, and prevent the escalation of drinking.

Aims: 

This project aims to address crucial questions about when and how to intervene to prevent the onset and exacerbation of alcohol and anxiety comorbidity.

Design and Method: 

The first phase uses epidemiological data to examine the relationship between anxiety and alcohol use across the important transition into early adulthood. The second phase draws on these findings to develop an early intervention for anxious young people at risk of alcohol use disorders. 

The third and final phase (supported by an Australian Rotary Health project grant) involves a trial to assess anxiety and alcohol outcomes associated with implementation of the Making InroADs intervention.

Progress/Update: 

Phase 1 of the study involved application of structural equation modelling to explore the relationship between anxiety and drinking in two cohorts:

  • The Climate and Preventure study, involving a large school-based Australian cohort;
  • The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a large UK-based birth cohort.

Findings from these studies have been presented at international conferences and are under preparation for publication.

Phase 2 development and focus-testing of the Making InroADs early intervention program is underway.

Output: 

Conference Presentations:

Stapinski, L. Heron, J., Baillie, A., Newton, N., Edwards, A., Hickman, M. & Teesson M. (2016). Making InroADs to understand and interrupt the cycle of Anxiety and Drinking. Society for Mental Health Research conference, Sydney, 7-9 December.

Stapinski, L.* Newton, N., Slade, T., Champion, K.E., Kelly, E., Barett, E., Nair, N., Conrod, P. & Teesson M. (2016). Why do adolescents drink? Understanding the relationship between internalising and externalising symptoms and motives for alcohol use. World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies, Melbourne, June.

Stapinski, L. Newton, N.C., Slade, T., Champion, K.E., Kelly, E., Barett, E., Nair, N., Carragher, N., Conrod, P. & Teesson M. (2015). Adolescent Motives for Alcohol Use. Annual conference of the Society for Mental Health Research, Brisbane, December.

Stapinski, L. Newton, N., Slade, T., Champion, K.E., Kelly, E., Barett, E., Nair, N., Carragher, N., Conrod, P. & Teesson M. (2015). Pathways to drinking: A developmental examination of internalising and externalising symptoms and motives for drinking in adolescence. The 15th congress of the International Federation for Psychiatric Epidemiology, Bergen, Norway, October.

Stapinski, L. Newton, N.C., Slade, T., Champion, K.E., Kelly, E., Barett, E., Nair, N., Carragher, N., Conrod, P. & Teesson M. (2015). Pathways to drinking: A developmental examination of internalising and externalising symptoms and motives for drinking in adolescence. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre Annual Symposium, Sydney, September.

Stapinski, L. (2015). Innovative prevention and treatment approaches to interrupt the vicious cycle of anxiety and substance use. Invited presentation (Early Career Researcher Innovation Award) at The Mental Health Services conference, Canberra, 25-28 August.

Benefits: 

The development of an age-appropriate intervention for young adults targeting anxiety, harmful alcohol use and the interconnections between them represents a significant innovation. Intervention at this critical developmental stage has the potential to empower young people and reduce the considerable burden, social costs and disability associated with anxiety and alcohol use disorders.

Drug Type: 
Project Status: 
Current