Study Finds Link Between Depression and First Use of Drugs or Alcohol

Source: SAMHSA Office of Applied Statistics Press Release, 5/3/2007
Youths who faced depression in the past year were twice as likely as those who did not have depression to take their first drink or use drugs for the first time, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The NSDUH Report: Depression and the Initiation of Alcohol and Other Drug Use among Youths Aged 12 to 17 showed that in 2005 2.2 million youths [8.8% of youths] experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. For these estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a major depressive episode is defined as a period of two weeks or longer during which there is depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image.

Among youths who had not used alcohol before, 29.2 percent of those who faced depression took their first drink in the past year, while 14.5 percent of youths who did not have a major depressive episode took their first drink. And 16.1 percent of youths who faced depression and had not previously used illicit drugs began drug use; in contrast, 6.9 percent of youths who did not have a major depressive episode began drug use.

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