Not all symptoms of alcohol dependence are developmentally equivalent: Implications for the false-positives problem.

Alvaro Vergés*, Matthew R. Lee, Christopher S. Martin, Timothy J. Trull, Matthew P. Martens, Phillip K. Wood, Kenneth J. Sher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Recent studies have examined the extent to which alcohol dependence (AD) criteria prospectively predict the course of AD. Critically, these studies have lacked a developmental perspective. However, the differential performance of criteria by age might indicate overendorsement in younger individuals. The current study examined AD criteria in terms of persistence and prediction of AD course and alcohol use by age in order to identify criteria that are likely to be overly endorsed by younger individuals. Method: The current study used longitudinal data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to depict age differences in rates of new onset, recurrence, and persistence for each AD criterion, thereby showing how these three factors contribute to the overall age-prevalence curve of each criterion. Additionally, we tested age moderation of the predictive association between each criterion at baseline and new onset, recurrence, and persistence of syndromal AD. Results: Some criteria (particularly, persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drinking, and drinking despite physical/psychological problems) are both less persistent and less predictive of AD course among younger adults compared to older adults. Conclusions: These findings raise the possibility of elevated rates of false-positive AD among younger adults and suggest ways to improve the assessment of AD criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-457
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - 6 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • alcohol dependence criteria
  • false positives
  • new onset
  • persistence
  • recurrence


Dive into the research topics of 'Not all symptoms of alcohol dependence are developmentally equivalent: Implications for the false-positives problem.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this