Does the social context of early alcohol use affect risky drinking in adolescents? Prospective cohort study
Louisa Degenhardt 1234*, Helena Romaniuk 256, Carolyn Coffey 2, Wayne D. Hall 78, Wendy Swift 1, John B. Carlin 35, Christina O’Loughlin 2 and George C. Patton 26
There are limited longitudinal data on the associations between different social contexts of alcohol use and risky adolescent drinking.
Australian prospective longitudinal cohort of 1943 adolescents with 6 assessment waves at ages 14–17 years. Drinkers were asked where and how frequently they drank. Contexts were: at home with family, at home alone, at a party with friends, in a park/car, or at a bar/nightclub. The outcomes were prevalence and incidence of risky drinking (≥5 standard drinks (10g alcohol) on a day, past week) and very risky drinking (>20 standard drinks for males and >11 for females) in early (waves 1–2) and late (waves 3–6) adolescence.
Forty-four percent (95 % CI: 41-46 %) reported past-week risky drinking on at least one wave during adolescence (waves 1–6). Drinking at a party was the most common repeated drinking context in early adolescence (28 %, 95 % CI 26-30 %); 15 % reported drinking repeatedly (3+ times) with their family in early adolescence (95 % CI: 14-17 %). For all contexts (including drinking with family), drinking 3+ times in a given context was associated with increased the risk of risky drinking in later adolescence. These effects remained apparent after adjustment for potential confounders (e.g. for drinking with family, adjusted RR 1.9; 95 % CI: 1.5-2.4). Similar patterns were observed for very risky drinking.
Our results suggest that consumption with family does not protect against risky drinking. Furthermore, parents who wish to minimise high risk drinking by their adolescent children might also limit their children’s opportunities to consume alcohol in unsupervised settings.