Stressful life events and transitions in problematic alcohol use involvement among US adults

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Objective: We investigated the impact of stressful life events (SLEs) for males and females on transitions in problematic alcohol involvement, both progression and recovery, over a 3-year interval. Method: Participants of both Wave 1 (2001–2002) and Wave 2 (2004–2005) of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) were stratified by sex (14,233 males and 19,550 females). Latent transition analysis estimated the impact of experiencing ≥3 SLE in the year preceding the Wave 1 interview on the probability of transitioning between three empirically-derived stages of alcohol involvement (patterns of alcohol use disorder [AUD] symptoms), across waves. Propensity score methods adjusted for confounding. Results: For males, three or more SLEs were associated with progression from the moderate to the severe problem stage (odds ratio [OR] = 2.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.17, 4.26). Among those in the severe problem stage, SLEs negatively impacted recovery regardless of sex. Employment/Financial SLEs were associated with a higher odds of transition from the moderate to the no problem stage (OR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.03, 2.46) and lower odds of transitions from the severe to the moderate problem stage (OR = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.16, 0.99) among males, and from the severe to the no problem stage (OR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.07, 0.88) among females. Conclusion: Stressful life events appear to affect transitions in alcohol involvement over time among those who already have alcohol problems, rather than impacting a transition among those without AUD problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2171-2180
Number of pages10
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2021


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • latent class analysis
  • latent transition analysis
  • stressful life events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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