Alcohol use during adolescence is prevalent in our society, despite the fact that alcohol consumption for minors is illegal. Numerous studies have demonstrated a positive association between early age of onset of alcohol use and alcohol problems in later adolescence and adulthood. In fact, delaying the age of drinking onset is a key goal of most programs and policies designed to prevent adolescent alcohol use. A limitation of previous work examining this issue is that few studies have assessed critical risk factors that predict early alcohol use onset, escalation of use over time, and later alcohol problems over the course of adolescence and young adulthood and the potential reciprocal relationships among risk factors and drinking patterns. Furthermore, specific categories of risk factors may help distinguish normative drinking patterns and the development of more problematic drinking patterns. Entering adolescence in a social environment conducive to drinking may predict early timing of onset and more frequent drinking, but when additional psychological motives such as poor adjustment and poor self-control are present, this may lead to drunkenness, binge drinking and drinking patterns that escalate rapidly during the transition to young adulthood. Furthermore, little is known about the mediating mechanisms through which timing of onset, patterns of early alcohol use, rate of increase over time, and early risk factors may contribute to alcohol problems among young adults. More work is needed that focuses on gender differences in the long-term impact of early alcohol use, given the significant gender differences in the epidemiology and etiology of alcohol use. It is also important to determine how pervasive the effects of early and escalating alcohol use are in terms of later drinking problems and impaired psychosocial functioning in social, occupational, legal, and financial domains. The proposed study aims to examine how different categories of risk factors affect initial patterns and escalation of alcohol use during adolescence in order to identify those individuals most likely to develop subsequent alcohol and drug problems and related difficulties during the transition to young adulthood.] This will be accomplished via secondary data analyses of a 13-year longitudinal dataset from a larger drug abuse prevention trial. The dataset is unique in that it contains a rich array of variables among individuals followed from adolescence into young adulthood. In addition to self-report data, we will examine risky and impaired driving outcomes that were previously collected from New York State Department of Motor Vehicle records. Ultimately, it is anticipated that these findings will improve public health by identifying key indicators and behavior patterns that place young people at risk for later alcohol- related problems, which can then be used to identify individuals who could benefit most from targeted alcohol prevention programs.

Public Health Relevance

A central goal of the proposed study is to examine how alcohol use during early adolescence affects subsequent alcohol and drug use/abuse, negative consequences of use, related risk behaviors, and other indicators of psychosocial adjustment during late adolescence and the transition to young adulthood. This will be accomplished via secondary data analyses of control group participants from a larger drug abuse prevention trial that assessed participants over a 13-year span from early adolescence to young adulthood. It is anticipated that the findings will improve public health by identifying key indicators and behavior patterns that place young people at risk for later alcohol-related and other problems, which can in turn be used to identify those individuals who could benefit most from targeted alcohol prevention or treatment programs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Health Services Research Review Subcommittee (AA)
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Hilton, Michael E
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Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Griffin, Kenneth W; Lowe, Sarah R; Acevedo, Bianca P et al. (2015) Affective Self-Regulation Trajectories During Secondary School Predict Substance Use Among Urban Minority Young Adults. J Child Adolesc Subst Abuse 24:228-234
Lowe, Sarah R; Acevedo, Bianca P; Griffin, Kenneth W et al. (2013) Longitudinal Relationships Between Self-Management Skills and Substance Use in an Urban Sample of Predominantly Minority Adolescents. J Drug Issues 43:103-118
Griffin, Kenneth W; Scheier, Lawrence M; Acevedo, Bianca et al. (2012) Long-term effects of self-control on alcohol use and sexual behavior among urban minority young women. Int J Environ Res Public Health 9:1-23
Griffin, Kenneth W; Botvin, Gilbert J (2010) Evidence-based interventions for preventing substance use disorders in adolescents. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 19:505-26