Predicting early drug use in young people

Depression and anxiety are two of the conditions that can serve to predict early drug and alcohol use. This is according to a new report published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, which revealed stress and social support are also contributory factors in this regard.

Dr Carolyn McCarty of Seattle Children's Research Institute, alongside investigators from the University of Washington and Seattle University - a Jesuit Catholic university established in 1891 - found young people are at less risk of indulging in such actions when they have greater levels of separation anxiety from their mother or father.

It was also demonstrated that initiation into substance use of this kind was delayed for children who received more emotional support from their teachers.

Dr McCarty noted the research is the first of its kind to link these types of relationship with alcohol intake, adding youngsters with symptoms of separation anxiety "may be protected by virtue of their intense connection to their parents, making them less likely to be in settings where substance use initiation is possible".

Chartered Psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin commented: "The factors contributing to exploration with alcohol at an early age are numerous.

"This study goes some way to explore these factors and finds that support from teachers, in particular, is an important protective factor.

"Teachers fulfil many varied roles, and these findings suggest that these roles can have a significant effect on the decisions made by children about their behaviour around alcohol".