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Alcohol Alcohol. 2008 Mar-Apr;43(2):204-14. Epub 2007 Oct 30.

A longitudinal study of alcohol use and antisocial behaviour in young people.

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MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RZ, Scotland.



To examine the direction of causation between young people's antisocial behaviour and alcohol (mis)use in the longer and shorter term, together with their joint effects on alcohol-related trouble.


A longitudinal study (2586 pupils) supplied data, allowing exploration of the causal effects of alcohol (mis)use and antisocial behaviour between ages 11 and 15, using structural equation models of longer and shorter-term relationships and joint-effects models in respect of alcohol-related trouble at age 15. This method allowed us to evaluate which of three hypotheses, described as 'disinhibition' [alcohol (mis)use causes or facilitates antisocial behaviour], 'susceptibility' [antisocial behaviour causes alcohol (mis)use] or 'reciprocal' [alcohol (mis)use causes antisocial behaviour and the reverse] receives most support, both overall and by gender, social class, and drinking context.


Overall, the results support the susceptibility hypothesis, particularly in the longer-term models. There is no support for 'pure' disinhibition. However, in the shorter-term and joint-effects models (i.e. as the time lag becomes shorter), there is evidence that in some gender, social class, or drinking contexts, in addition to antisocial behaviour causing alcohol (mis)use, the reverse also applies.


Antisocial behaviour is the main predictor of alcohol (mis)use and alcohol-related trouble, with alcohol (mis)use impacting only modestly on antisocial behaviour and alcohol-related trouble in the shorter term.

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