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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Nov 1;133(1):100-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.05.025. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Conduct problem trajectories and alcohol use and misuse in mid to late adolescence.

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School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, UK. Electronic address:



We consider the strength of the relationship between types of conduct problems in early life and pattern of alcohol use during adolescence.


Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a U.K. birth-cohort, had their level of conduct problems assessed repeatedly from 4 to 13 years using the maternal report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Developmental trajectories derived from these data were subsequently related to (i) patterns of alcohol use from 13 to 15 years, and (ii) hazardous alcohol used at age 16.


Boys with 'Adolescent Onset' or 'Early Onset Persistent' conduct problems were much more likely to be high frequency drinkers between 13 and 15 years (OR 5.00 95% CI=[2.4, 10.6] and 3.9 95% CI=[2.1, 7.3] respectively) compared with those with Low or 'Childhood Limited' conduct. Adolescent Onset/Early Onset Persistent girls also had greater odds of this high-alcohol frequency drinking pattern (2.67 [1.4, 5.0] and 2.14 [1.2, 4.0] respectively). Associations were more moderate for risk of hazardous alcohol use at age 16. Compared to 32% among those with low conduct problems, over 40% of young people classified as showing Adolescent Onset/Early Onset Persistent conduct problems were drinking hazardously (OR 1.52 [1.09, 2.11] and 1.63 [1.22, 2.18] respectively).


Whilst persistent conduct problems greatly increase the risk of adolescent alcohol problems, the majority of adolescents reporting hazardous use at age 16 lack such a history. It is important, therefore, to undertake alcohol prevention among all young people as a priority, as well as target people with manifest conduct problems.


ALSPAC; Adolescence; Alcohol use; Conduct problems; Trajectory

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