New early intervention addresses anxiety and drinking in young people

December 2017

Researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) are recruiting participants to trial a new intervention for young people, aged 17 to 24, who experience anxiety symptoms and drink alcohol at harmful levels.

The inroads program was developed in consultation with young people and is innovative in two important ways:

  • It is an age-appropriate, early intervention for young adults that addresses anxiety symptoms, alcohol use, and the interconnections between them.
  • It combines therapist email/phone support with an internet-delivered program to circumvent common treatment-seeking barriers for young people, such as stigma and time constraints.

Senior Research Fellow, Dr Lexine Stapinski said the transition into early adulthood is a unique and important period when the risk of developing anxiety and alcohol use disorders is increased.

“By intervening before these problems become entrenched, inroads aims to improve anxiety symptoms, reduce reliance on alcohol as a coping mechanism, and interrupt the trajectory into alcohol disorder,” Dr Stapinski said.

Inroads has been adapted from our effective anxiety and alcohol use disorder CBT program for adults and utilises online content that is relevant and engaging for young people, including contemporary images and design.

“By offering early intervention in a format young people are receptive to, the program has the potential to dramatically reduce the considerable burden of anxiety and alcohol use problems.”

Young adults, aged 17 to 24, who drink to cope with the symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, stress or worry are invited to participate in the trial which commenced in December 2017.

If you are interested in finding out more information, or referring a young person to the program, please visit the inroads website

In 2017, Australian Rotary Health provided funding to support an efficacy trial of the inroads program. The project is led by Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use (CREMS) members Dr Lexine Stapinski, Associate Professor Andrew Baillie, Associate Professor Nicola Newton and Professor Maree Teesson. The research team includes Dr Mark Deady, Erin Kelly, Katrina Prior and Briana Lees.