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Research Summary

Risky Drinking Associated With Psychiatric Disorders

The association between risky drinking and medical consequences, such as hypertension, is well known. Less is known, however, about the relationship between risky drinking and psychiatric disorders. To explore this relationship, researchers assessed average alcohol consumption and psychiatric diagnoses in a population-based sample of 4074 German adults. Analyses were cross-sectional and adjusted for age, sex, and unemployment.

  • Risky drinkers (i.e., those without abuse or dependence who consumed risky amounts*) were significantly more likely than moderate drinkers or abstainers to have an affective disorder (odds ratio [OR] 1.9), an anxiety disorder (OR 1.5), or a somatoform disorder (OR 1.6).
  • Thirty-seven percent of risky drinkers-compared with 28% of moderate drinkers or abstainers-had a psychiatric disorder.


Psychiatric disease often co-occurs with alcohol use disorders. According to this study's findings, it may also co-occur with risky drinking. Further research should confirm these results by examining samples from other countries and by using longitudinal designs.

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH
* >20 g of alcohol (about 1-2 drinks) a day for women, 30 g (2-3 drinks) for men


Bott K, Meyer C, Rumpf HJ, et al. Psychiatric disorders among at-risk consumers of alcohol in the general population. J Stud Alcohol. 2005;66(2):246-253.