Alcohol use disorders and internalizing disorders are highly comorbid, but how this comorbidity unfolds over development is not well understood. The present study investigated effects of internalizing symptoms in late childhood on speed of transition between three alcohol involvement milestones: first drink, first binge, and onset of first alcohol dependence symptom. Greater early internalizing symptoms were expected to predict a later age of first drink, a slower transition from first drink to first binge, and a faster transition from first binge to first dependence symptom. The effects of age and moderating effects of gender were also examined. Data were from a longitudinal study of children of alcoholics and matched controls (N = 454) followed from late childhood to midlife. Generally, stage-specific hypotheses were not supported; rather, greater internalizing symptoms predicted an earlier age of first drink and a faster transition through the full interval from first drink to first dependence symptom. Regarding gender moderation, internalizing significantly predicted a faster transition between each milestone as well as through the full interval among women but not men. These results suggest that early internalizing problems confer risk for a rapid transition through all stages of alcohol involvement, and this risk may be limited to women.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health