Determinants of Alcohol Dependence Among Adolescents in Washington State: Neighborhood, Family, and Peer Effects

Laurie Drapela, Washington State University, Vancouver
Clayton Mosher, Washington State University, Vancouver

After twenty-five years of trend analyses on adolescent substance use and abuse, the widespread prevalence of adolescent alcohol consumption has been firmly established. Adolescent alcohol dependence has received comparatively little attention from social scientists, however. This gap in the literature is unfortunate, as the intensity of adolescent alcohol dependence has greater potential to disrupt age-appropriate transitions into adulthood than "routine" alcohol consumption (e.g., college attendance and labor force participation). The following study identifies determinants of DSM-IV alcohol dependence among a household sample of adolescents in Washington State. Preliminary findings indicate that the presence of drug-using peers increases the odds of meeting the criteria for alcohol dependence, while parental attachments and strong neighborhood social controls decrease it. Participation in delinquency increases the odds of meeting alcohol dependence criteria and also is associated with greater intensity of alcohol dependence among diagnosed adolescents. Policy implications of the research and the appropriateness of adult criteria for identifying adolescent alcohol dependence are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006