While it is clear that affect is negatively impacted by heavy drinking in adulthood and that it improves with abstinence, little is known about effects of heavy drinking on mood during adolescence.Methods
This study examined negative mood states among 2 groups of 16- to 18-year-old high school students; youth with a history of recent heavy episodic drinking (HED; n = 39) and comparison youth with limited lifetime drinking experience (CON; n = 26). Affect was assessed at 3 time points during a 4- to 6-week period of monitored abstinence using the Hamilton Rating Scales for Anxiety and Depression; self-reports were obtained with the state portion of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and experience sampling of current affect was assessed via daily text messages sent at randomly determined times in the morning, afternoon, and evening.Results
Youth with a recent history of HED reported more negative affect compared with nondrinking youth during early stages of abstinence (days since last HED at assessment 1: M = 6.46; SD = 5.06); however, differences in affect were not observed after 4 to 6 weeks of abstinence. Sex differences were evident, with HED girls reporting greater depression and anxiety than HED male peers. Although not significant, response patterns indicated that boys may experience faster resolution of negative emotional states than girls with sustained abstinence.Conclusions
Findings suggest that high-dose drinking is associated with elevated negative affect for adolescents and that negative mood states may take longer to resolve for girls than for boys following heavy drinking episodes. Future research clarifying naturally occurring changes in affective response during early and sustained abstinence is necessary for improving programs designed to promote adolescent decision-making and to reduce risk for relapse.