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Dev Psychopathol. 1999 Spring;11(2):321-48.

The psychosocial characteristics of alcohol users versus problem users: data from a study of adolescents at risk.

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Department of Psychology, Loyola University of Chicago, IL 60626, USA. CColder@LUC.EDU


Most previous research has assumed that adolescent alcohol use and problem use represent a continuum and are influenced by the same psychosocial factors, with problem use representing more severe psychosocial impairment. The current study evaluated this assumption by identifying the correlates of adolescent alcohol use and those of problem use. Using a community sample of adolescent children of alcoholics (COAs) and a demographically matched comparison group (non-COAs), a typology of adolescent alcohol use was created, and alcohol use groups were compared on variables chosen from nine psychosocial domains. The correlates of problem alcohol use were different from those of moderate use. Problem use was associated with fundamental family disruptions and poor psychological functioning. In contrast, the determinants of moderate alcohol use reflected unconventionality and socialization specific to alcohol. Few psychosocial variables distinguished abstainers from light drinkers. Intervention and methodological implications of these findings are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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