Author(s): Hicks BM, Iacono WG, McGue M
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Abstract BACKGROUND: While there is an extensive literature on the correlates of alcohol use disorders (AUD; alcohol abuse and dependence), there are relatively few prospective studies of representative birth cohorts that have examined the unique effects of an adolescent onset and persistent course of AUD on a wide range of psychosocial variables. METHODS: A longitudinal, community-based sample of 530 men was used to examine the impact of an adolescent onset (AUD+ at age 17) and persistent course (AUD+ at age 29) of AUD on adolescent and adult functioning including substance use, antisocial behavior, mental health problems, overall psychosocial functioning, environmental risk and protective factors, and social outcomes such as peer and romantic relationships, marriage, educational and occupational attainment, and parenthood. RESULTS: An adolescent onset of AUD (n = 57) was associated with severe deficits across multiple domains of psychosocial functioning in adolescence. Measures of behavioral disinhibition in adolescence were strong predictors of a persistent course of AUD (n = 93). Nearly 40\% of men with an adolescent onset were able to desist by age 29, and were similar, but not identical to men who never experienced an AUD in terms of adult functioning. Men with an adolescent onset and persistent course of AUD exhibited the most severe deficits in functioning. CONCLUSION: Results emphasize the importance of examining developmental course to understand the etiology of AUD. Our findings are optimistic in that individuals who desist from AUD are able to achieve high levels of psychosocial functioning. Our findings suggest that future research on the persistence of AUD into adulthood should focus on the contributions of behavioral disinhibition and social environment variables including peer and romantic relationships.
This article was published in Alcohol Clin Exp Res
and referenced in Journal of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence