Young, wet & wild? Associations between alcohol intoxication and violent behaviour in adolescence

Addiction. 1999 Jul;94(7):1017-31. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.1999.94710177.x.


Aims: To assess gender- and age-specific associations between alcohol intoxication and engagement in violent behaviours in young people. DESIGN, PARTICIPANTS AND MEASUREMENT: Cross-sectional study comprising a national sample of 12,000 Norwegian adolescents aged 12-20 years. Data on violent behaviour, alcohol intoxication and various confounders were obtained by self-administered questionnaires in school.

Findings: 2.8% had been in fight with a weapon and 32.6% had been beating or threatening to beat someone during the past year. Violent behaviours were more often reported among boys, in the younger age groups, with increasing frequency of alcohol intoxication, among users of other drugs, among those engaged in criminal activities and among those in wet environments (friends drinking regularly and parents often being intoxicated). The impact of intoxication frequency on number of times engaged in violent behaviours was of modest magnitude. It was greater in the youngest age group compared to those in the middle and late teens and greater for boys than for girls. However, when criminal activities were controlled for, the adjusted effect of intoxication on violent behaviour was significantly reduced, the effect was then of the same magnitude for both genders, whereas there was no longer any significant effect in the youngest age group. Controlling also for parents' and friends' drinking and parental monitoring did not alter these findings.

Conclusions: A small direct effect of alcohol intoxication on violent behaviour appears to remain after controlling for various relevant confounders in middle and late teens. However, possible indirect effects of alcohol intoxication, mediated by own deviant life-style and wetness of environment, should also be taken into consideration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / psychology*