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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008 Jan;69(1):100-11.

Positive functioning and alcohol-use disorders from adolescence to young adulthood.

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  • 1Social Development Research Group, University of Washington, 9725 3rd Avenue NE, Suite 401, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA.



This research examined the longitudinal relationship between positive functioning and alcohol-use disorders from late adolescence into young adulthood.


This study used prospective, longitudinal data from the Seattle Social Development Project on a contemporary sample of 808 young adult men and women interviewed multiple times since childhood. The analysis employed a longitudinal path analysis to examine the relationship between positive functioning and alcohol-use disorders across four time points between ages 15-18 and age 27.


Positive functioning and alcohol-use disorders showed moderately strong continuity from adolescence through young adulthood. Positive functioning in adolescence predicts reduced likelihood of a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and dependence (as defined in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) at age 21, and positive functioning at age 21 predicts reduced likelihood of alcohol abuse and dependence at age 24 in this sample. These findings remain even after controlling for continuity in positive functioning and alcohol-use disorders, associations between positive functioning and alcohol use in adolescence, and sociodemographic differences attributable to gender, race/ethnicity, and poverty.


Positive functioning in adolescence and early adulthood can decrease the probability of developing alcohol-use disorders in young adulthood. The data from this study suggest that promoting positive development in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood should be a focus of programs seeking to prevent alcohol abuse and dependence. Providing continued support for the development of positive functioning through the transition from adolescence to adulthood could decrease the chance of the development of alcohol-use disorders in adulthood.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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