Understanding Risk Factors Involved in Initiation of Adolescent Alcohol Use

Posted on June 27, 2016

The researchers gathered data on 137 healthy alcohol- and drug-naïve adolescents through the Youth at Risk study, including extensive clinical interviews, neuropsychological testing, and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, followed by annual check-ups. By age 18, 70 youth (51%) had initiated heavy alcohol use and 67 had remained non-users.

"Demographic factors that predict adolescent drinking include being male, coming from a higher socioeconomic status -- which means coming from families with more money and education, dating by age 14, and positive expectations of how alcohol is going to make you feel and behave, particularly in social situations," said Squeglia.

"Furthermore, poorer performance on tests of executive functioning -- for example, on tasks of planning, problem solving, and reasoning -- as well as differences in the structure and function of the brain during executive functioning tasks at ages 12 to 14, are also predictive of which youth initiate alcohol use by age 18," she added.

"Teachers, parents, and clinicians can easily be looking for the demographic risk factors we identified as being highly predictive of alcohol use, like gender, dating behaviors, socioeconomic background, and youth's expectations of how alcohol will affect them," emphasized Squeglia. "With replication of our findings, we will hopefully be able to even better identify at-risk youth, as well as potential targets of preventive efforts such as bolstering executive functioning."

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Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues

Source material from ScienceDaily

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