Onset of Alcohol Use: A Comparison Between Early Drinkers and Non-Drinkers in the Continuity of Aggression and Delinquency From Preschool to Adolescence

Roni Mayzer, Michigan State University
Marcel Montanez, Michigan State University
Maria M. Wong, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Leon I. Putter, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Michigan State University
Robert A. Zucker, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Although drinking during adolescence is not uncommon (and generally not a precursor of future abuse or dependence), early onset of alcohol use has been associated with a constellation of other problem behaviors and may be a marker for more serious developmental outcomes. This research explores the relationship between drinking and aggression/delinquency. Data are from adolescent participants in the prospective Michigan - Michigan State Longitudinal Study (i.e., a group of adolescent children of alcoholics and an ecologically comparable group of adolescents from families without alcoholic parents). It is hypothesized that early onset is associated with a hard-continuity model of problem behavior, with stronger autostability between aggression/delinquency from the preschool years and middle childhood through early adolescence among early drinkers versus non-drinkers. Notably, this would be consistent with Moffitt's developmental theory and Zucker's risk-cumulative, nested model. Exploratory findings of causal models will be discussed in relation to contextual regulators (i.e., mediators) of the hard-continuity hypothesis. (Supported by NIAAA Grant 2R01AA07065)

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Updated 05/20/2006