Effects of Excessive Alcohol Use on Antisocial Behavior Across Adolescence and Early Adulthood

Gemma Hammerton, Liam Mahedy, Joseph Murray, Barbara Maughan, Alexis C. Edwards, Kenneth S. Kendler, Matthew Hickman, Jon Heron

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: Antisocial behavior (ASB) declines with age in the majority of the population; however, excessive alcohol use may inhibit the desistance process. We hypothesize that excessive early drinking will slow a young person’s overall pattern of crime desistance in comparison to that of others (“between-person effects”), and that short-term increases in alcohol consumption will result in short-term increases in ASB (“within-person effects”). 
Method: Frequency of ASB and typical alcohol consumption were assessed repeatedly with young people from ages 15 to 21 years in a population-based birth cohort (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Chilren). Longitudinal trajectories showed ASB decreasing and alcohol use increasing across adolescence, with both stabilising in adulthood. The parallel growth model was re-parameterized to simultaneously estimate the person-specific (or “between-person”) and time-specific (or “within-person”) influences of alcohol on ASB. 
Results: Typical alcohol consumption by young people aged 15 years was positively associated with ASB both cross-sectionally and into young adulthood (i.e. there were “between-person” effects of initial levels of alcohol consumption on both initial (b[SE]=1.64[0.21]; p<.001) and final levels of ASB (b[SE]=0.53[0.14]; p<.001). Within-person effects were also identified in early adulthood (b[SE]=0.06[0.02]; p=.001), showing that when a young person reported consuming more alcohol than normal across the past year, they also reported engaging in higher than their usual levels of ASB. 
Conclusion: The results are consistent with both between- and within-person effects of excessive alcohol use on ASB desistence. Future research should further investigate this relationship by investigating pathways into excessive alcohol use and ASB in adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Early online date3 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2017


  • alcohol consumption
  • antisocial behavior
  • within-person effect
  • between-person effect


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