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Problem teen drinking is not just a phase
February 15th, 2011
06:01 PM ET

Problem teen drinking is not just a phase

Problem drinking during the late teenage years is a real problem, not just a phase, that can signal problem drinking in young adulthood, according to a new study. The findings are published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

“The key finding was that the more drinking-related problems experienced by an adolescent at age 18, the greater the likelihood that adolescent would be diagnosed with alcoholism seven years later, at age 25," said lead study author Richard R. Rose of Indiana University.  "The analysis of co-twins ruled out factors such as parental drinking and household atmosphere as the source of the association, because twins jointly experience these." Rose said that because twin teens in the study had the same parental, environmental and genetic factors, the results provide strong evidence that drinking behavior at age 18 is a strong predictor for drinking behavior at age 25.

The study involved 597 twins enrolled in long-term Finnish study of twins. At age 18 the twins took the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index, which is a self-administered questionnaire designed to measure alcohol drinking related problems. Rose said the RAPI is one of the most widely used assessments of problematic teen drinking. Study participants were later interviewed in-person at age 25 to assess alcohol dependence.

The study found that 52% of teens had RAPI scores reflecting problematic drinking at age 18, and those results held at age 25 when the young adults were tested for alcohol dependence.  46.2 % met the criteria for alcohol dependence and 1.5% for alcohol abuse.

RAPI scores in late teen years “robustly predict alcohol diagnoses in early adulthood. Accordingly, our results also provide new evidence that one pathway to problem drinking in early adulthood is a direct one from problem drinking in adolescence,” according to the study.

Rose says the findings show that teen drinking problems can chart a course to problems with alcohol in young adulthood.  The study concludes that “screening for drinking related problems with an instrument such as RAPI is one approach in effectively addressing that priority.”


soundoff (36 Responses)
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  2. Michelle

    This is confusing to me, "The study found that 52% of teens had RAPI scores reflecting problematic drinking at age 18, and those results held at age 25 when the young adults were tested for alcohol dependence. 46.2 % met the criteria for alcohol dependence and 1.5% for alcohol abuse."

    Are the 52% at age 18 and the 46.2% at 25 out of the entire population? Or is it out of the 52% at age 18 with the RAPI score, 46.2% showed alcohol dependency at 18? The way it's written in the story, there is no clear correlation between the score at 18 and 25. The fact that the percentage of people with an alcohol problem stayed about steady means nothing if it was a different group of people both times.

    Bad reporting is bad.

    February 16, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Anna

    When are we going to get an article that tells us something we don't know?

    February 16, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 16, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
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    The average age of first use is 12 years old...this story only addresses up from 18....it's no wonder that this epidemic is either ignored or enabled.

    What we need to do is sue the alcohol industry for the $20 billion they make off of sales to kids and use that money to help PREVENT this ignored addiction cycle...it's going to be rough tho~ half the alcohol kids get comes from their parents...and parents (including your legislators) who drink are in denial that their drug of choice is a drug at all...that crap is worse than crack or heroin, why it's adverised and sold unmarked (as an addictive drug) is beyond belief.

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    March 2, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
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