Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 1752–1766 | Cite as

The Developmental Relationship Between Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence and Harmful Drinking in Emerging Adulthood: The Role of Peers and Parents

  • Francesca Pesola
  • Katherine H. Shelton
  • Jon Heron
  • Marcus Munafò
  • Matthew Hickman
  • Marianne B. M. van den Bree
Empirical Research


Depressive symptoms have been linked to the development of harmful drinking in adolescence but it remains unclear to what extent this effect continues into emerging adulthood. Deviant peers represent a risk factor while parental monitoring is a protective factor for harmful drinking. The study explored the relationship between depressive symptoms and harmful drinking between early adolescence and emerging adulthood. We also assessed to what extent this relationship is mediated by the influence of deviant peers and whether parental monitoring weakens this process. The sample consisted of 2964 adolescents (64 % females) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children study assessed between the ages of 14 and 19. Using structural equation modelling, we found that affiliation with deviant peers mediated the association between depressive symptoms and harmful drinking after adjustment for socio-demographic variables, parental drinking and depression, teenager’s sex, conduct problems as well as drinking and depressive symptoms in early adolescence. We also found that parental control and solicitation reduced the influence of deviant peers on harmful drinking. The results indicate that prevention programs should offer adolescents training for peer resistance training and monitoring skills training for parents may have a long-term effect at weakening peer influences on harmful drinking.


Harmful drinking Depressive symptoms Parental monitoring Deviant peers ALSPAC Prospective birth cohort study 



We are extremely thankful to the families who took part in this study, the midwives for their help in recruiting, and the whole ALSPAC team, which includes interviewers, computer and laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers, managers, receptionists and nurses. The UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (Grant Ref: 092731) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors and Francesca Pesola and Marianne van den Bree will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper. This research was funded by The European Foundation for Alcohol Research (ERAB; ref: EA 10 08) and the Mental Health Research Network Cymru [ref: VANM/010410(36)].

Author contributions

FP participated in the study design, performed the statistical analyses and wrote and revised the manuscript; KS participated in the study design, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafting the manuscript; JH participated in the study design and provided statistical advice; MM participated in the study design; MH was involved in the study design; MvdB is the Principal Investigator of the ERAB project, obtained the grant funding, conceived the study design, and helped draft the manuscript and interpret the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Pesola
    • 1
  • Katherine H. Shelton
    • 2
  • Jon Heron
    • 3
  • Marcus Munafò
    • 4
    • 5
  • Matthew Hickman
    • 3
  • Marianne B. M. van den Bree
    • 6
  1. 1.Wolfson Institute for Preventive MedicineQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.School of PsychologyCardiff UniversityPark Place, CardiffUK
  3. 3.School of Social and Community MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  4. 4.MRC Integrative Epidemiology UnitUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  5. 5.UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, School of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  6. 6.Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical NeurosciencesCardiff University School of MedicineCardiffUK

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