AIM: The aim of this study is to examine the susceptibility of very young adolescents (10-12years of age) to peer alcohol-related influences, compared to older adolescents (13-14years of age).

METHODS: The analysis sample consisted of 7064 adolescents in grade 6 (modal age 11) or grade 8 (modal age 13) from 231 schools in 30 communities across three Australian States. Key measures were adolescent reports of alcohol use (past 30days) and the number of peers who consume alcohol without their parent's awareness. Control variables included parent alcohol use, family relationship quality, pubertal advancement, school connectedness, sensation seeking, depression, length of time in high school, as well as age, gender, father/mother education, and language spoken at home. A multi-level model of alcohol use was used to account for school-level clustering on the dependent variable.

RESULTS: For both groups, the number of peers who consumed alcohol was associated with alcohol use, but Grade 6 students showed a unique susceptibility to peripheral involvement with peer drinking networks (having one friend who consumed alcohol).

CONCLUSION: The results point to the importance of monitoring and responding to comparatively minor shifts in the proportion of peers who use alcohol, particularly among very young adolescents.

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the extent to which a retrospective measure of parental provision of the first alcoholic beverage was related to current heavy episodic drinking and current responsible drinking practices.

SAMPLE: 608 14- to 17-year-olds from the 2007 Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

MEASURES: Source of first alcoholic beverage (friends/parents/others), source of current alcohol, age of onset of alcohol use, current responsible drinking practices, and proportion of current friends who drink.

RESULTS: Binary logistic and multiple regression procedures revealed that parental provision of an adolescent's first alcoholic beverage predicted lower current heavy episodic drinking, and responsible drinking mediated this association.

DISCUSSION: The results suggested that for adolescents who become alcohol users, parental provision of the first drink may reduce subsequent alcohol-related risks compared to introduction to alcohol by friends and other sources. Alcohol-related risks remain significant for adolescents who consume alcohol, independent of who is the provider.

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: In Australia, 20% of 14- to 19-year-olds drink at least weekly. Some parents supply alcohol to their adolescent children with the intention of limiting the quantity consumed, but it is possible that such supply facilitates risky drinking. We sought to determine whether there is an association between parental supply and risky drinking.

DESIGN AND METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in seven high schools in New South Wales, Australia. Five hundred and thirty students (mean age 16.0 years, SD 1.3) completed survey items relating to their alcohol consumption, sources of alcohol, circumstances of parental supply, and peers' consumption.

RESULTS: Among respondents (response rate 43%), 93% of participants had tried alcohol, 66% had consumed at least a full glass, and 40% had consumed more than four drinks on a single occasion in the preceding month (risky drinking). Risky drinkers obtained alcohol mainly from friends (48%) and parents (19%). After controlling for school year and gender, and adjusting for clustering, parental supply for drinking under 'other' supervision (P = 0.004) and with no supervision (P = 0.007), the number of close friends believed to have consumed alcohol in the past month (P < 0.001), and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status (P = 0.02) were all significantly associated with risky drinking.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Parental supply of alcohol for unsupervised drinking is associated with risky drinking among 13- to 17-year-olds. Longitudinal studies would assist in studying the temporal sequence and controlling for confounding.

OBJECTIVE: With the use of a new cohort of adolescent subjects, predictors from the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA) interview and the Achenbach Youth Self Report (YSR) were combined to model age of first drink (AFD).

METHODS: Subjects consisted of 820 adolescents (ages 14-17) drawn from the current phase of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism. Three Cox proportional hazards models were considered. Model 1 contained SSAGA variables equivalent to AFD predictors from our previous study: interview age, family history of alcohol dependence, and number of conduct disorder symptoms. Model 2 incorporated 2 additional SSAGA questions (best friends drink and smoked a cigarette before a reported AFD) plus 8 YSR-derived scale scores. Model 3 was a reduced version of model 2, retaining only significant predictors.

RESULTS: Model 2 was a significant improvement over model 1. Model 3 was the best and the most parsimonious of the 3 with respect to likelihood ratio and Wald chi(2) tests and retained only 5 variables from model 2. Included variables were the following: (1) best friends drink, (2) membership in a high-risk alcohol dependence family, (3) number of conduct disorder symptoms, (4) YSR externalizing score, and (5) YSR social problems score.

CONCLUSIONS: Adding variables to those from our original study improved our ability to model the likely age of alcohol initiation. In addition to the SSAGA, the YSR appears to have utility as a research tool to predict the age of alcohol initiation.

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