Objective: This research provides estimates of how strongly family bonds, family drug use, age, educational commitment and peer drug use are associated with the frequency and amount of alcohol consumption among adolescents, and compares females and males.
Method: Using questionnaire data from a random sample of 27,000 adolescents, structural equation modeling is used to evaluate the strength of several risk factors.
Results: The influence of family bonds is moderately strong but operates primarily through peers; adolescents with higher family bonds are less likely to have close friends who are involved with drugs. Family bonds have a relatively strong, positive association with educational commitment, and adolescents with a higher educational commitment tend to drink less frequently; and when they drink, they tend to consume smaller amounts. Living in a family where other family members have a problem with alcohol or other drugs increases the chance that an adolescent has friends who drink or use other drugs.
Conclusions: Family bonding has small but significant direct effects and moderate indirect effects on both the frequency and amount of alcohol use. Family and peer influences are similar for both females and males. Living in a family where other family members have a drug problem increases the chance that an adolescent has friends who use drugs. Family bonding appears to be an important social control mechanism that may decrease the risk of alcohol abuse among adolescents.