3 december 2011

Very young adolescents and alcohol: Evidence of a unique susceptibility to peer alcohol use

AIM: The aim of this study is to examine the susceptibility of very young adolescents (10-12years of age) to peer alcohol-related influences, compared to older adolescents (13-14years of age).

METHODS: The analysis sample consisted of 7064 adolescents in grade 6 (modal age 11) or grade 8 (modal age 13) from 231 schools in 30 communities across three Australian States. Key measures were adolescent reports of alcohol use (past 30days) and the number of peers who consume alcohol without their parent's awareness. Control variables included parent alcohol use, family relationship quality, pubertal advancement, school connectedness, sensation seeking, depression, length of time in high school, as well as age, gender, father/mother education, and language spoken at home. A multi-level model of alcohol use was used to account for school-level clustering on the dependent variable.

RESULTS: For both groups, the number of peers who consumed alcohol was associated with alcohol use, but Grade 6 students showed a unique susceptibility to peripheral involvement with peer drinking networks (having one friend who consumed alcohol).

CONCLUSION: The results point to the importance of monitoring and responding to comparatively minor shifts in the proportion of peers who use alcohol, particularly among very young adolescents.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    O'flaherty M.; Kelly A.B.; Chan G.C.; Toumbourou J.W.; Homel R.; Patton G.C.; Williams J.
  • Issue

    Addict.Behav. / pages 414-9 / 37(4)
  • Published Date

    3 december 2011