The bidirectional relationships between alcohol, cannabis, co-occurring alcohol and cannabis use disorders with major depressive disorder: results from a national sample

Lauren R Pacek, Silvia S Martins, Rosa M Crum
Journal of Affective Disorders 2013, 148 (2-3): 188-95

INTRODUCTION: Alcohol use disorders (AUD) and cannabis use disorders (CUD) are common in the United States (US), and are associated with major depressive disorder (MDD). Co-occurring alcohol and cannabis use/use disorders (AUD+CUD), though understudied, have been found to be associated with greater adverse outcomes than alcohol or cannabis use/use disorders alone. There is a paucity of research on the co-occurring relationships of the two disorders with depression.

METHODS: Data came from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a population-based longitudinal survey of the adult non-institutionalized, civilian population in the US. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess the associations between: 1) baseline AUD, CUD, and co-occurring AUD+CUD with incident MDD at follow-up and 2) baseline MDD with incident AUD, CUD, and co-occurring AUD+CUD at follow-up, adjusted for potential confounding variables.

RESULTS: For Aim 1, most of the AUD and CUD were positively associated with MDD. The strongest associations with incident MDD were observed for cannabis dependence (OR=6.61, CI=1.67-26.21) and co-occurring alcohol and cannabis dependence (OR=2.34, CI=1.23-4.48). For Aim 2, baseline MDD was significantly associated with comparatively fewer cases of incident AUD and CUD but the strongest association was observed for new onset co-occurring alcohol and cannabis dependence (OR=4.51, CI=1.31-15.60).

LIMITATIONS: The present study is limited by the potential for social desirability and recall biases.

DISCUSSION: Positive associations between AUD, CUD and MDD were observed bidirectionally. Findings have implications for preventive and treatment programs and initiatives.

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