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Monday, March 5, 2012

Alcohol Use History and Panic-Relevant Responding Among Adolescents: A Test Using a Voluntary Hyperventilation Challenge.

Given the onset of alcohol use, neurological sensitivity, and enhanced panic-relevant vulnerability, adolescence is a key period in which to study the documented linkage between alcohol and panic-related problems.

The current study was designed to build upon and uniquely extend extant work via (a) utilization of well-established experimental psychopathology techniques and (b) evaluation of unique associations between alcohol use and panic symptoms after controlling for theoretically relevant behavioral, environmental, and individual difference variables (i.e., age, gender, negative affectivity, anxiety sensitivity, child and parent tobacco use, and parental panic disorder).

Participants were 111 community-recruited adolescents ages 12–17 years (M = 15.76 years; n = 50 girls). Youth completed a battery of well-established questionnaires and a voluntary hyperventilation challenge, and parents present at the laboratory completed a structured clinical interview. Adolescent alcohol use was categorized as Non-Users, Experimenters, or Users. Panic symptoms were indexed via retrospective self-report and adolescents' response to a biological challenge procedure (i.e., voluntary hyperventilation).

After controlling for theoretically relevant covariates, Users evidenced elevated panic-relevant symptoms and responding compared with Non-Users; Experimenters did not differ from Non-Users.

Findings suggest alcohol use history is uniquely associated with panic symptomatology among youth, including “real-time” reactivity elicited by a laboratory challenge.

Although there is significant work yet to be done, these data advance extant work and lay the groundwork for the types of sophisticated designs that will be needed to answer the most pressing and complex questions regarding the link between alcohol use and panic symptoms among adolescents.

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