Concurrent Use of Addictive Substances among Alcohol Drinkers: Prevalence and Problems in a Swedish General Population Sample
To examine concurrent use of addictive substances among alcohol drinkers [alcohol users] in the Swedish general population and to assess to what extent this increases the risk of alcohol problems.
Data were retrieved from a nationally representative survey from 2013 on use of and problems related to alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs and non-prescribed use of analgesics and sedatives with 15,576 respondents. Alcohol users were divided into different groups on the basis of frequency of drinking [alcohol use] overall and binge drinking [alcohol use]. Tobacco use was measured in terms of daily use and use of illicit drugs and non-prescribed use of analgesics and sedatives were measured in terms of last 12 months prevalence. A dichotomous indicator of a DSM-IV dependence or abuse diagnosis was used. Logistic regression models were estimated to examine the relationship between various patterns of drinking [alcohol use] in combination with other substance use and risk of alcohol abuse and/or dependence.
People who drink [use] alcohol in Sweden were more likely to use other addictive substances than non-drinkers [abstainers] and such concurrent use becomes more common the more alcohol is consumed. Alcohol drinkers [alcohol users] using other substances have a higher prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence at all frequencies of drinking [alcohol use]. Multivariate models controlling for sex, age and drinking [alcohol use] frequency found that an elevated risk of harm remained for drinkers [alcohol users] using addictive substances other than snuff.
A large group of drinkers [alcohol users] in the Swedish general population have an accumulation of risks as a result of using both alcohol and other addictive substances. Concurrent use of cigarettes, illicit drugs and non-prescribed use of analgesics and sedatives adds an independent risk of alcohol abuse/dependence in this group in addition to their drinking [alcohol use]. The findings point at the importance of taking multiple substance-use patterns into account when combating drinking [alcohol use] problems. Screening for concurrent use of other addictive substances could help healthcare providers to identify patients in need of treatment for alcohol problems.