Evidence for Two Paths of Alcohol Use Onset in Adolescents

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Health Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Personality and Social Contexts | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Research is needed to identify risk factors specifically associated with the development of substance abuse. The current study explored the possibility that adolescents classified as having a problem behavior prone orientation (Type II) are predisposed to more rapid alcohol use onset compared to more normally socialized (Type I) adolescents. It was hypothesized that both types of adolescents would increase their alcohol use over time, but that problem behavior prone adolescents would increase their rates of alcohol consumption more rapidly than would normally socialized adolescents. Using ANCOVA (with baseline alcohol use as a covariate) and t tests (examining only nondrinkers at baseline), the hypotheses were strongly supported. Both Type I and Type II adolescents significantly increased their alcohol use over a one-year period. Type II adolescents, in comparison to Type I adolescents, had significantly higher alcohol use. The greater alcohol use among Type II adolescents was attributed to their problem behavior prone orientation. The findings suggest the existence of two different developmental pathways of alcohol use onset, one initiated by normally socialized adolescents and the other by adolescents with a problem behavior prone orientation. Future alcohol abuse prevention programs may benefit from tailored intervention strategies which take into account population specific risk factors

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© 1989 Elsevier Ltd.