Rosa Crum of the The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed national survey data on people who reported drinking as if it were a medication in 2001 and 2002.
When the study participants were re-interviewed in 2004 and 2005, their drinking was more likely to show signs of alcohol dependence, or being addicted to alcohol, Crum said.
"It indicates that drinking as a way to improve mood symptoms might increase the probability that alcohol dependence will develop," Crum said in a statement.
Crum said people who self-medicate should find other ways to cope, or they might need professional help.
The study was published in the journal Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry.
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