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Addiction. 2018 Nov;113(11):2041-2050. doi: 10.1111/add.14280. Epub 2018 Jun 27.

The effect of parental drinking on alcohol use in young adults: the mediating role of parental monitoring and peer deviance.

Author information

Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.
Department of Psychiatry and School of Medicine, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, United States of America.
School of Dentistry, College of Biomedical and Life Science, Cardiff University, United Kingdom.



Evidence demonstrating an association between parental alcohol use and offspring alcohol use from robust prospective studies is lacking. We tested the direct and indirect associations between parental and young adult alcohol use via early alcohol initiation, parental monitoring and associating with deviant peers.


Prospective birth cohort study. Path analysis was used to assess the possible association between parental alcohol use (assessed at 12 years) and alcohol use in young adults (assessed at 18 years) via potential mediators (assessed at 14 and 15.5 years, respectively).


South West England.


Data were available on 3785 adolescents and their parents from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.


The continuous Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score was used as the primary outcome measure. Maternal alcohol use was defined as light (< 4 units on any day), moderate (≥ 4 units on 1-3 days) and high-risk (≥ 4 units on ≥ 4 days in 1 week). Partner alcohol use was also defined as light, moderate and high risk. Socio-economic variables were included as covariates.


There was strong evidence of a total effect from maternal alcohol use to young adult alcohol use [moderate: b = 1.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.64, 1.49, P < 0.001; high risk: b = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.07, 2.35, P < 0.001]. The majority of this association was explained through early alcohol initiation (moderate: b = 0.14, 95% CI = 0.04, 0.25, P = 0.01; high risk: b = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.07, 0.40, P < 0.01) and early alcohol initiation/associating with deviant peers (moderate: b = 0.06, 95% CI = 0.02, 0.10, P < 0.01; high risk: b = 0.10, 95% CI = 0.03, 0.16, P < 0.01). There was strong evidence of a remaining direct effect (moderate: b = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.39, 1.22, P < 0.001; high risk: b = 1.28, 95% CI = 0.65, 1.91, P < 0.001). A similar pattern of results was evident for partner alcohol use.


Young adults whose parents have moderate or high-risk alcohol consumption are more likely to consume alcohol than those with parents with lower alcohol consumption. This association appears to be partly accounted for by earlier alcohol use initiation and higher prevalence of association with deviant peers.


ALSPAC; Alcohol; parental monitoring; parental transmission; peer deviance; prospective; teenagers

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