Influence of adolescent alcohol misuse on antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms in young adulthood

PhD project (3/4 yr research project leading to independent research at the doctorate level)

Matthew Hickman, Jon Heron

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Young people in the UK report some of the highest rates of alcohol consumption and hazardous drinking in Europe[1]. Recent trends suggest that monthly alcohol use may have decreased for young people over 16 and increased for those under 16 but with little change in trends in heavy episodic (binge) drinking and little to no difference between girls and boys with over 50% reporting heavy episodic drinking.[1] Average weekly alcohol consumption among women aged 16-19 nearly trebled from ~5 units in 1992 to 14 units per week in 2002 and the gap between men and women has narrowed,[2] Consistent with these data, we recently found that nearly 15% of both boys and girls aged 13-15 were classified as “high” frequency drinkers, and that by age 16 over 1 in 3 of boys and girls were defined as hazardous drinkers based on reported Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores.[3]

Aims & objectives

(1) Examine the potential role of alcohol exposure on the continuation or acceleration of antisocial behaviour, specifically to test the hypothesis that alcohol misuse acts as a snare on individual’s antisocial behaviour preventing “natural maturation”.

(2) Examine trends in alcohol misuse and depressive symptoms and test alternative hypotheses about how they inter-relate.


The project will work with repeated self-report measures of alcohol use/misuse from the ALSPAC study along with antisocial behaviour and depressive symptoms.

The methods will consist of a range of latent variable models within the Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) environment.


1] The 2011 ESPAD report. The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs, Stockholm, Sweden
2] Goddard E. Estimating alcohol consumption from survey data. London: ONS HMSO; 2007
3] Patterns of alcohol use in early adolescence predict problem use at age 16. Alcohol Alcohol. 2012;47(2)

Created on Oct. 1, 2015, 9 a.m.