Understanding the Progression from Early Alcohol Use Experimentation to Alcohol Use Disorder: Testing Vulnerability by Experience Interactions Using a Two-Part Latent Growth Curve Model

Abstract

Most adolescents experiment with alcohol, but a smaller percentage advance to heavy alcohol use (AU) and AU disorder (AUD). Understanding for whom and how early risk leads to AUD is of interest to prevention, treatment, and etiology of AUD. Informed by developmental and behavioral neuroscience theory, the current study tested whether temperament (effortful control, surgency, and negative affect), peer AU (multi-reporter), and AU with parents’ permission interacted to distinguish youth who experiment with alcohol from those who escalate to AUD. Community adolescents (N = 765, 53% female) were assessed annually for seven years (Mage = 11.8, range: 10–13 at Year 1; Mage = 18.7; range = 17–20 at year 7). Temperament by early experience interactions were expected to predict amount of AU. Amount of AU was expected to mediate the relationship between the interactions and AUD symptoms (assessed at Years 3 and 7, Mage = 13.8 and 18.7) above and beyond a range of confounds (e.g., problem behavior and parental AU and AUD). Supporting hypotheses, effortful control and surgency interacted with AU with parents’ permission and peer AU, respectively, to predict higher amount of AU (R2 = 0.47) and AUD symptoms (R2 = 0.03). Results support developmental and behavioral neuroscience theory. High surgency and low effortful control in conjunction with peer AU and AU with parents’ permission were associated with large effects on AU and moderate mediated effects through AU to AUD. AU with parents’ permission was risky at low and high effortful control and protective when peers used alcohol.

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Funding

This research was funded by two grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA020171 and R01 DA019631) awarded to Dr. Craig R. Colder.

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Scalco, M.D., Evans, M. & Colder, C.R. Understanding the Progression from Early Alcohol Use Experimentation to Alcohol Use Disorder: Testing Vulnerability by Experience Interactions Using a Two-Part Latent Growth Curve Model. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-021-00772-6

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