Study finds new possible predictors for teen alcohol abuse

Very young children who exhibit consistent emotional and behavioral problems or are highly sociable are at an elevated risk for alcohol abuse as teenagers, according to a new study from researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Bristol (UK) and King’s College of London Institute of Psychiatry.

It’s not just the problem kids, noted lead researcher Danielle Dick, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Dick and her colleagues found that the association between having a social temperament as a preschooler and teen alcohol use was more significant than emotional or behavioral issues. 

The findings are based on data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which included nearly 13,000 boys and girls who were followed across a time span of about 15 years. The children’s temperamental characteristics were assessed six times between the ages of six months and 5.75 years. Their alcohol use was assessed at 15.5 years of age.

The findings were published online last week in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, and will appear in print in the December 2013 issue.