Adolescent Alcohol Initiation: A Review of Psychosocial Risk Factors

J Adolesc Health. 2004 Dec;35(6):529.e7-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2004.02.003.


Longitudinal research studies focused on alcohol use initiation in adolescence were reviewed to determine which variables function as antecedent predictors or risk factors. Only studies that focused on time-1 abstainers were included. Classes of risk factors examined include sociodemographic, family, peer, personality, and behavioral variables. The most consistent antecedent risk factors for starting to drink in adolescence were parental and peer approval and models for drinking and drug use as well as adolescents' own prior involvement in delinquent behavior. There was little evidence for gender differences in risk factors for alcohol use initiation. Secondary analyses of existing longitudinal data sets are encouraged to examine whether there are ethnic/racial differences in the risk factors for starting to drink and to establish those factors that serve a protective or buffering function, delaying onset of alcohol use in adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology