Probability and Correlates of Dependence Among Regular Users of Alcohol, Nicotine, Cannabis, and Cocaine: Concurrent and Prospective Analyses of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

Objective: Research on the progression from substance use to dependence typically relies on lifetime retrospective reports of dependence among ever users. We sought to evaluate probability and correlates of dependence among recent (past-year) weekly users of alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and cocaine through cross-sectional and prospective analyses.

Methods: Data on substance use (assessed by the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-IV) and DSM-IV psychiatric disorders were assessed in 2 waves (Wave 1, N = 43,093; Wave 2, N = 34,653) through the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Results: Conditional risk of dependence varied by frequency of substance use, although it was relatively stable for nicotine use. Among weekly past-year substance users at Wave 1, rates of dependence when rates of past-year dependence at Wave 1 were combined with new cases of dependence reported at Wave 2 were 15.6% for alcohol, 25.0% for cannabis, and 67.3% for nicotine. For past-year weekly users of cocaine at Wave 1, 49.9% met criteria for past-year dependence. Multiple demographic characteristics and past-year psychiatric disorders were correlated with past-year dependence, even among daily users. Men were generally more likely than women to be dependent on alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine, although women were more likely to be dependent on nicotine. Prospective analyses indicated that depressive disorders at Wave 1 predicted subsequent development of alcohol dependence (odds ratio [OR] = 1.40; 95% CI, 1.19–1.65; P < .05). Further, 33.5% of weekly tobacco smokers who were nondependent at Wave 1 developed dependence later on.

Conclusions: The present findings highlight the importance of frequency of use when determining the addictiveness of substances and suggest that certain demographic variables and psychiatric disorders are associated with substance dependence even among regular substance users.

J Clin Psychiatry 2016;77(4):e444–e450

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.14m09469