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Impact of age at first drink on vulnerability to alcohol-related problems : testing the marker hypothesis in a prospective study of young adults

  • There is ample evidence that the early initiation of alcohol use is a risk factor for the development of later alcohol-related problems. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether this association can be explained by indicators of a common underlying susceptibility or whether age at drinking onset may be considered as an independent predictor of later drinking behavior, suggesting a potential causal relationship. Participants were drawn from a prospective cohort study of the long-term outcomes of early risk factors followed up from birth onwards. Structured interviews were administered to 304 participants to assess age at first drink and current drinking behavior. Data on risk factors, including early family adversity, parental alcohol use, childhood psychopathology and stressful life events, were repeatedly collected during childhood using standardized parent interviews. In addition, information on genotype was considered. Results confirmed previous work demonstrating that hazardous alcohol consumption is related toThere is ample evidence that the early initiation of alcohol use is a risk factor for the development of later alcohol-related problems. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether this association can be explained by indicators of a common underlying susceptibility or whether age at drinking onset may be considered as an independent predictor of later drinking behavior, suggesting a potential causal relationship. Participants were drawn from a prospective cohort study of the long-term outcomes of early risk factors followed up from birth onwards. Structured interviews were administered to 304 participants to assess age at first drink and current drinking behavior. Data on risk factors, including early family adversity, parental alcohol use, childhood psychopathology and stressful life events, were repeatedly collected during childhood using standardized parent interviews. In addition, information on genotype was considered. Results confirmed previous work demonstrating that hazardous alcohol consumption is related to early-adolescent drinking onset. A younger age of first drink was significantly predicted by 5-HTTLPR genotype and the degree of preceding externalizing symptoms, and both factors were related to increased consumption or harmful alcohol use at age 19. However, even after controlling for these potential explanatory factors, earlier age at drinking onset remained a strong predictor of heavy alcohol consumption in young adulthood. The present longitudinal study adds to the current literature indicating that the early onset - adult hazardous drinking association cannot solely be attributed to shared genetic and psychopathologic risk factors as examined in this study.show moreshow less

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Author:Arlette F. Buchmann, Brigitte Schmid, Dorothea Blomeyer, Katja Becker, Jens Treutlein, Ulrich S. Zimmermann, Christine Jennen-Steinmetz, Martin H. Schmidt, Günter EsserGND, Tobias Banaschewski, Marcella Rietschel, Gunter Schumann, Manfred Laucht
URL:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00223956
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.02.006
ISSN:0022-3956
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2009
Year of Completion:2009
Release Date:2017/03/25
Source:Journal of psychiatric research. - ISSN 0022-3956. - 43 (2009), 15, S. 1205 - 1212
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften / Department Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert