Age-related changes in the relationship between alcohol use and violence from early adolescence to young adulthood

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Background: Despite the accumulation of studies examining the link between alcohol use and violence, no studies to our knowledge have systematically set out to detect age-related differences in these relationships. This limitation inhibits important insights into the stability of the relationship between alcohol use and violence among youth across varying ages. Method: Study findings are based on repeated, cross-sectional data collected annually as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2002 and 2013. We combined a series of nationally representative cross-sections to provide a multi-year string of data that, in effect, reflects a nationally representative non-traditional cohort. We conducted logistic regression analyses to examine the cross-sectional association between non-binge and binge drinking and violent attacks among youth between ages 12 (2002) and 24/25 (2013). Results: With respect to the association between non-binge alcohol use and violence, the only significant relationship identified-while controlling for sociodemographic and drug use factors-was for youth at age 13 (2003; OR = 1.97, 95% CI = 1.04-3.72). For binge drinking, we identified a distinct pattern of results. Controlling for sociodemographic, drug use factors, and school enrollment, binge drinking was significantly associated with violence between ages 13 (2003) and 20 (2010) with the largest odds ratios observed during the early adolescent period. Conclusions: Non-binge drinking is associated with violent behavior at age 13. Binge drinking was found to be associated with violence among youth through age 20; however, the relationship dissipates when youth arrive at the legal drinking age of 21.




Salas-Wright, C. P., Reingle Gonzalez, J. M., Vaughn, M. G., Schwartz, S. J., & Jetelina, K. K. (2016). Age-related changes in the relationship between alcohol use and violence from early adolescence to young adulthood. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 4, 13–17.

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