Background: Alcohol use frequently onsets and shows rapid growth during the adolescent years, but few studies have examined growth in two indicators, namely in use and in volume given use, with prediction from key risk factors measured across the adolescent years. Methods: Based on a dynamic developmental systems framework, we predicted that the general risk pathway associated with the development of antisocial behavior (namely poor parental practices and antisocial behavior/deviant peer association) would be associated with both indicators of use in Grade 6. Specific proximal social influences, namely alcohol use by parents and peers, were also hypothesized, with growth in peer use of alcohol expected to be predictive of growth. Predictors were assessed by youth, parent, and teacher reports, with alcohol use and volume assessed yearly by youth self-reports. Models were tested separately for the 3-year middle school period and the 4-year high school period. Hypotheses were tested for the Oregon Youth Study sample of approximately 200 at-risk boys. Results: Findings indicated that alcohol use by both parents and peers were associated with initial levels of alcohol use and volume, but increases in peer use predicted growth in these indicators. Parental monitoring showed a protective effect on growth in volume in high school. Conclusion: Alcohol use by members of the adolescent's social network is critical to initiation of use, and peer use is critical to growth. With these predictors specific to alcohol use in the model, none of the general risk factors for antisocial behavior were significant.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by NIMH Grant MH 37940 from the Psychosocial Stress and Related Disorders Branch, U.S. PHS. The NIMH had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)