Anxiety and alcohol use disorders are among the most prevalent and debilitating of mental health disorders, and commonly co-occur. There is limited evidence about the temporal sequence, although the available data suggests anxiety typically predates alcohol use disorders, and the use of alcohol to cope with anxiety is commonly reported. Increasingly, anxiety and alcohol comorbidity is understood as a clinically important mutually-reinforcing relationship, yet current prevention and treatment approaches are limited by single disorder models.
The transition into early adulthood is a unique developmental period, characterized by numerous personal and social role changes. Young adulthood also marks a period of increased vulnerability for onset of both anxiety and alcohol use disorders. The unique challenges of this early adulthood period combined with the emergence of anxiety and alcohol use disorder symptoms require a developmentally-targeted early intervention to empower young adults, enhance anxiety coping skills, and prevent the escalation of drinking. This project involves a randomised controlled trial of a new, therapist-supported online early intervention for anxious young people at risk of alcohol use disorders.