Abstinence from alcohol

Michael T. McKay*, Martin Dempster, Jon C. Cole

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter we investigate the longitudinal relationship between alcohol consumption at age 13, and age 16. Alcohol-specific measures were frequency of drinking, amount consumed at last use and alcohol-related harms. Self-report data were gathered from 1,113 high school students at baseline (T1), and 981 students at 32-month follow up (T2). Socio-demographic data were gathered, as was information on context of use, alcoholrelated knowledge and attitudes, four domains of aggression and delay reward discounting. Results indicate that any consumption of alcohol, even supervised consumption, at T1 was associated with significantly poorer outcomes at T2. In other words, compared to those still abstinent at age 13, those engaging in alcohol use in any context reported significantly more frequent drinking, more alcohol-related harms and more units consumed at last use at age 16. Results also support the relationship between higher levels of physical aggression at T1 and a greater likelihood of more problematic alcohol use behaviours at T2. The findings support other evidence suggesting that abstinence in early adolescence has better longitudinal outcomes than supervised consumption of alcohol. These results suggest support for current guidelines on adolescent drinking in the United Kingdom (UK).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdolescence
Subtitle of host publicationPlaces and Spaces
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781631178504
ISBN (Print)9781631178474
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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