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20.03.2023 | Publication

Alcohol drinking behavior and its developmental antecedents

Julkaisun nimi:

Alcohol drinking behavior and its developmental antecedents


Pitkänen, T.


The aim of the present study was to examine the development of and precursors to alcohol drinking behavior, considering the timing of antecedents (childhood, adolescence) and of outcomes (adolescence, young adulthood, early middle age) separately for females and males.







Julkaisun tiedot:

Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research, 293, University of Jyväskylä

Lyhyt kuvaus:

The Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development (JYLS) extending from age 8 to 42 provided the data for Studies I, III, and IV, and the Mental Health of Young Adults (NAM) extending from age 17 to 22 provided the data for Study II.

There were four main themes common to the four original publications (Studies I–IV): analysis of drinking behavior, methods of measuring drinking behavior, precursors of drinking behavior, and differences between the genders penetrating the three other themes.

Several indicators of drinking behavior were used including the frequency of drinking, binge drinking, the alcoholism screening tests CAGE and Mm-MAST, and problems due to drinking.

About half of the participants of both longitudinal studies had shown some signs of heavy drinking by young adulthood, and at early middle age, half of the JYLS participants acknowledged that the use of alcohol had caused problems for them in, for instance, human relationships and work.

Continuity in drinking behavior was high, even though at the individual level variation was also considerable. The early age of onset and heavy drinking in adolescence were significant risk factors for later heavy drinking. The level of adult alcohol use and alcohol problems was significantly higher in men than in women.

Significant childhood and adolescent risk factors to and resource factors for drinking behavior in young adulthood and early middle age were found. The precursors varied, however, across the indicators of drinking and across the genders.

In sum, problems due to drinking were more predictable than other aspects of drinking behavior. Low child-centeredness in parenting, externalizing problem behaviors, low school orientation, maladjustment, substance use, and somatic symptoms in adolescence were associated with adult problem drinking in both genders.

Additionally, maternal smoking and the daughters’ internalizing symptoms were linked to adult problem drinking in females, whereas parental drinking, the sons’ low compliance, and childhood externalizing problem behaviors, and social activity preceded adult problem drinking in males.

The longitudinal results revealed a finding that was not found in the literature: problems due to drinking in males and females were more predictable in middle age than in young adulthood.

Keywords: alcohol, problem drinking, binge drinking, CAGE, Mm-MAST, frequency of drinking, onset age, psychological well-being, socioemotional behavior, school success, family background, longitudinal study

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