Lack of Sleep Increases Risk of Teen Alcohol and Drug Problems

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Monday, January 19, 2015

Lack of Sleep Increases Risk of Teen Alcohol and Drug Problems

*The following is excerpted from an online article from The Science Times.

A new study to be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research suggests that adolescents who get poor or insufficient sleep may be at higher risk of developing alcohol or drug problems.

Researchers discovered that sleep difficulties and the hours of sleep can successfully predict many different problems, including binge drinking, driving under the influence, and risky sexual behavior.

"Among normal adults, sleep difficulties and insomnia have predicted onset of alcohol use one year later, and increased risk of any illicit drug use disorder and nicotine dependence 3.5 years later," lead author of the study and director of experimental training in the department of psychology at Idaho State University, Maria M. Wond says. "Among adult alcoholics who received treatment for alcohol dependence, those with insomnia at baseline were more likely to relapse to alcohol use.

"The association between poor sleep and substance use has also been found in younger age groups. Overtiredness in childhood has predicted lower response inhibition in adolescence, which in turn predicted number of illicit drugs used in young adulthood. Overtiredness in childhood has also directly predicted the presence of binge drinking, blackouts, driving after drinking alcohol, and number of lifetime alcohol problems in young adulthood."

"The purpose of this study was to examine whether sleep difficulties and hours of sleep prospectively predicted several serious substance-related problems that included binge drinking, driving under the influence of alcohol, and risky sexual behavior," Wong says. "Sleep difficulties at the first wave significantly predicted alcohol-related interpersonal problems, binge drinking, gotten drunk or very high on alcohol, driving under the influence of alcohol, getting into a sexual situation one later regretted due to drinking, and ever using any illicit drugs and drugs-related problems at the second wave."

"This study has added to the existing literature by establishing the relationship between two sleep variables - sleep difficulties and hours of sleep - and the odds of serious alcohol- and drug-related problems in a nationally representative sample," she said.

Source: The Science Times