This article provides an overview of the characteristics of adolescent alcohol use, normative and subgroup variations in drinking behavior, and the important factors associated with an increased risk for developing alcohol problems in later adolescence and young adulthood. Parental or family histories of alcoholism, temperament traits, conduct problems, cognitive functioning, alcohol expectancies, and peer and other social relations are identified as factors influencing an adolescent's susceptibility for initiating a variety of alcohol use behaviors. The deviance prone model, proposed by Sher in 1991, is presented as an important tool for testing possible relationships among the various risk factors and their sequencing that leads to early adolescent alcohol use and drug initiation. It is also possible to extend the model to allow for an examination of the complex interplay of risk factors that lead to the development of alcohol use problems in late adolescence and young adults.
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