Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 40, Issue 9, pp 1215–1224 | Cite as

Longitudinal Associations of Alcohol Involvement with Subjective Well-Being in Adolescence and Prediction to Alcohol Problems in Early Adulthood

  • W. Alex Mason
  • Richard L. Spoth
Empirical Research


Adolescent alcohol involvement is associated with numerous negative outcomes, but also appears to have positive correlates, including subjective well-being. Additional research is needed to understand these paradoxical findings. The current study examines alcohol use, adverse alcohol-related (and other substance-related) consequences, and subjective well being in adolescence, and prediction to problem alcohol use in early adulthood. Participants in this longitudinal study, which extended from age 11 to age 21, were 208 rural teens (109 girls) and their families. Covariates included early substance use, early conduct problems, early depressed mood, gender, and parent educational attainment. Structural equation modeling showed that subjective well-being at age 16 positively predicted increased alcohol use at age 18. Alcohol use was not a significant predictor of subjective well-being; however, alcohol use at age 18 positively predicted alcohol problems at age 21, even while controlling for earlier adverse consequences and other predictors. Results help to further elucidate both the negative and positive correlates of underage drinking, and support the value of delaying alcohol initiation.


Alcohol use Subjective well-being Longitudinal Adolescence Early adulthood 



This research was supported by NIAAA Grant AA14702, NIDA Grant DA10815, and NIHM Grant 49217. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the official views of the funding agencies. Neither author has a conflict of interest to declare.


  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the child behavior checklist/4–18 and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  2. Auerbach, K. J., & Collins, L. M. (2006). A multidimensional developmental model of alcohol use during emerging adulthood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67, 917–925.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogart, L. M., Collins, R. L., Ellickson, P. L., & Klein, D. J. (2006). Are adolescent substance users less satisfied with life as young adults and if so, why? Social Indicators Research, 81, 149–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, S. A., Tapert, S. F., Granholm, E., & Delis, D. C. (2000). Neurocognitive functioning of adolescents: Effects of protracted alcohol use. Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, 24, 164–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chatterji, P., & DeSimone, J. (2006). High school alcohol use and young adult labor market outcomes. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  6. Chung, T., Hipwell, A., Loeber, R., White, H. R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (2008). Ethnic differences in positive alcohol expectancies during childhood: The Pittsburgh Girls Study. Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32, 966–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colder, C. R., Campbell, R. T., Ruel, E., Richardson, J. L., & Flay, B. R. (2002). A finite mixture model of growth trajectories of adolescent alcohol use: Predictors and consequences. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 976–985.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conger, R. D., Lorenz, F. O., Elder, G. H., Jr., Melby, J. N., Simons, R. L., & Conger, K. J. (1991). A process model of family economic pressure and early adolescent alcohol use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 430–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crum, R., Storr, C. L., Ialongo, N., & Anthony, J. C. (2008). Is depressed mood in childhood associated with an increased risk for initiation of alcohol use during early adolescence? Addictive Behaviors, 33, 24–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. D’Onofrio, C. N. (1997). The prevention of alcohol use by rural youth. In E. B. Robertson, Z. Sloboda, G. M. Boyd, L. Beatty, & N. J. Kozel (Eds.), Rural substance abuse: State of knowledge and issues. NIH Publication No. 97–4177 (pp. 250–363). Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  11. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ellickson, P. L., Tucker, J. S., Klein, D. J., & McGuigan, K. A. (2001). Prospective risk factors for alcohol misuse in late adolescence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 62, 782.Google Scholar
  13. Gfroerer, J. C., Larson, S. L., & Colliver, J. D. (2007). Drug use patterns and trends in rural communities. The Journal of Rural Health, 23, 10–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gibbons, S., Wylie, M. L., Echterling, L., & French, J. (1986). Patterns of alcohol use among rural and small-town adolescents. Adolescence, 21, 887–900.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldberg, J. H., Halpern-Felsher, B. L., & Millstein, S. G. (2002). Beyond invulnerability: The importance of benefits in adolescents’ decision to drink alcohol. Health Psychology, 21, 477–484.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Guo, J., Collins, L. M., Hill, K. G., & Hawkins, J. D. (2000). Developmental pathways to alcohol abuse and dependence in young adulthood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61, 799–808.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: Implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 64–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hingson, R. W., Heeren, T., & Winter, M. R. (2006). Age at drinking onset and alcohol dependence: Age at onset, duration, and severity. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 160, 739–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2010). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2009: Volume I, Secondary schools students (NIH Publication No. 10–7584). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  21. Lambert, D., Gale, J. A., & Hartley, D. (2008). Substance abuse by youth and young adults in rural America. The Journal of Rural Health, 24, 221–228.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Maggs, J. L., Patrick, M. E., & Feinstein, L. (2008). Childhood and adolescent predictors of alcohol use and problems in adolescence and adulthood in the National Child Development Study. Addiction, 103, 7–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mason, W. A., Hitch, J. E., Kosterman, R., McCarty, C. A., Herrenkohl, T. I., & Hawkins, J. D. (2010). Growth in adolescent delinquency and alcohol use in relation to young adult crime, alcohol use disorders, and risky sex: A comparison of youth from low- versus middle-income backgrounds. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51, 1377–1385.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mason, W. A., Hitchings, J. E., & Spoth, R. L. (2007). Emergence of delinquency and depressed mood throughout adolescence as predictors of late adolescent problem substance use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21, 13–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mason, W. A., Kosterman, R., Haggerty, K. P., Hawkins, J. D., Redmond, C., Spoth, R. L., et al. (2008). Dimensions of adolescent alcohol involvement as predictors of young-adult major depression. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 69, 275–285.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Mayer, R. R., Forster, J. L., Murray, D. M., & Wagenaar, A. C. (1998). Social settings and situations of underage drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 59, 207–215.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. McFarlane, A. C., Browne, D., Bryant, R. A., O’Donnell, M., Creamer, M., & Horsley, K. (2009). A longitudinal analysis of alcohol consumption and the risk of posttraumatic symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders, 118, 166–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Molnar, D. S., Busseri, M. A., Perrier, C. K., & Sadava, S. W. (2009). A longitudinal examination of alcohol use and subjective well-being in an undergraduate sample. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70, 704–713.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Mukamal, K. J., Conigrave, K. M., Mittleman, M. A., Camargo, C. A., Jr., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., et al. (2003). Roles of drinking pattern and type of alcohol consumed in coronary heart disease in men. The New England Journal of Medicine, 348, 109–118.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Murphy, J. G., McDevitt-Murphy, M. E., & Barnett, N. P. (2005). Drink and be merry? Gender, life satisfaction, and alcohol consumption among college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 19, 184–191.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2009). Mplus user’s guide (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  32. National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. (2007). The 2007 report to the secretary: Rural health and human services issues. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  33. Newcomb, M. D., & Bentler, P. M. (1988a). Consequences of adolescent drug use: Impact on the lives of young adults. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Newcomb, M. D., & Bentler, P. M. (1988b). Impact of adolescent drug use and social support on problems of young adults: A longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 64–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Newcomb, M. D., Bentler, P. M., & Collins, C. (1986). Alcohol use and dissatisfaction with self and life: A longitudinal analysis of young adults. The Journal of Drug Issues, 16, 479–494.Google Scholar
  36. Park, C. L. (2004). Positive and negative consequences of alcohol consumption in college students. Addictive Behaviors, 29, 311–321.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Patrick, M. E., Wray-Lake, L., Finlay, A. K., & Maggs, J. L. (2009). The long arm of expectancies: Adolescent alcohol expectancies predict adult alcohol use. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 1, 1–8.Google Scholar
  38. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  39. Sadava, S. W. (1985). Problem behavior theory and consumption and consequences of alcohol use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 46, 446–464.Google Scholar
  40. Shedler, J., & Block, J. (1990). Adolescent drug use and psychological health. American Psychologist, 45, 612–630.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Spear, L. P. (2000). The adolescent brain and age-related behavioral manifestations. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 24, 417–463.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Spoth, R. L., Greenberg, M., & Turrisi, R. (2008). Preventive interventions addressing underage drinking: State of the evidence and steps toward public health impact. Pediatrics, 121, S311–S336.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., & Shin, C. (1997). A prospective validation study of inclination, belief, and context predictors of family-focused prevention involvement. Family Process, 36, 403–429.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., & Shin, C. (1998). Direct and indirect latent-variable parenting outcomes of two universal family-focused preventive interventions: Extending a public health-oriented research base. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 385–399.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., & Shin, C. (2000). Reducing adolescents’ aggressive and hostile behaviors: Randomized trial effects of a brief family intervention 4 years past baseline. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 154, 1248–1257.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Spoth, R. L., Trudeau, L., Guyll, M., Shin, C., & Redmond, C. (2009). Universal intervention effects on substance use among young adults mediated by delayed adolescent substance initiation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77, 620–632.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stice, E., Barrera, M., Jr., & Chassin, L. (1998). Prospective differential prediction of adolescent alcohol use and problem use: Examining the mechanisms of effect. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 616–628.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. White, H. R., & Labouvie, E. W. (1989). Toward the assessment of adolescent problem drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 50, 30–37.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Wills, T. A., Sandy, J. M., Shinar, O., & Yaeger, A. (1999). Contributions of positive and negative affect to adolescent substance use: Test of a bidimensional model in a longitudinal study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 13, 327–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Windle, M. (1990). A longitudinal study of antisocial behaviors in early adolescence as predictors of late adolescent substance use: Gender and ethnic group differences. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 86–91.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Windle, M., Spear, L. P., Fuligni, A. J., Angold, A., Brown, J. D., Pine, D., et al. (2008). Transitions into underage and problem drinking: Developmental processes and mechanisms between 10 and 15 years of age. Pediatrics, 121, S273–S289.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zullig, K. J., Valois, R. F., Huebner, S., Oeltmann, J. E., & Drane, J. W. (2001). Relationships between perceived life satisfaction and adolescents’ substance abuse. Journal of Adolescent Health, 29, 279–288.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boys Town National Research Institute for Child and Family StudiesBoys TownUSA
  2. 2.Partnerships in Prevention Science InstituteIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

Personalised recommendations