Background and aims: Social context is an important factor in determining the developmental trajectory of alcohol use. We examined the co-development between alcohol use problems and antisocial peer affiliation. We also estimated the genetic and environmental influences on alcohol use problems, antisocial peer affiliation and their co-development over time. Design: Longitudinal study using bivariate latent basis models with structured residuals (LBM-SR). A biometric model was then fitted to estimate the genetic and environmental influences on the growth factors and their covariances. Setting: The United States mid-west region. Participants: Members of the Minnesota Twin Family Study (MTFS), an ongoing, longitudinal study of 3762 (52% female) twins (1881 pairs). Measurements: Alcohol use problems were assessed using a composite measure of average number of drinks per occasion in the past 12 months, maximum number of drinks in 24 hours and DSM-III-R symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence. Antisocial peer affiliation was measured by self-report of the proportion of one's friends who exhibited types of antisocial behaviors. Findings: The LBM-SR model revealed that there was a large correlation between the growth factors for alcohol use problems and antisocial peer affiliation [r = 0.78, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.76, 0.80] and cross-lagged effects consistent with both selection and socialization effects. Additionally, antisocial peer affiliation in adolescence was associated with greater increases in alcohol use problems over time (r = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.54, 0.60). Genetic influences largely accounted for the association between antisocial peer affiliation in pre-adolescence and growth in alcohol use problems, while shared environmental influences accounted for the correlation between antisocial peer affiliation and alcohol use problems growth factors. Conclusions: Antisocial peer affiliation in adolescence appears to be a salient, genetically influenced risk factor for early alcohol use and increase in alcohol use from adolescence to young adulthood.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R37 DA005147, R01 DA013240) and National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R01 AA09367, R01 AA024433, T32 AA007477, R03 AA024282).
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