Affective processes and alcohol use in mid-adolescence
AffiliationCentre for Youth Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsCheetham, A. (2013). Affective processes and alcohol use in mid-adolescence. PhD thesis, Centre for Youth Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne.
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© 2013 Dr. Ali Cheetham
The aim of this thesis was to prospectively examine the role of affective processes in driving mid-adolescent drinking behaviour across multiple stages of use. While previous studies have provided considerable evidence that affective processes are related to adolescent alcohol use, there have been few prospective, longitudinal studies that have comprehensively examined how different components and dimensions of affect contribute to various stages of drinking. Methods: This thesis draws on data from the Orygen Adolescent Development Study, an ongoing longitudinal research project that has obtained multi-method assessments of affective processes from approximately 250 adolescents since 2004. Incorporated into analyses were four measures of affect, gathered at age 12: (i) self-report measures of clinical symptoms; (ii) self-report measures of affective temperament; (iii) observation of adolescent affective behaviours during a parent-child conflict resolution task; and (iv) structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of key brain regions implicated in affective processes. These measures were used to prospectively predict the onset of use, heavy drinking, and the experience of alcohol-related problems four years later, at age 16. Results: Few variables predicted early onset and heavy drinking, although the results indicated that adolescents who have a tendency to seek out pleasurable experiences are at greater risk of early initiation of alcohol use. In contrast, the experience of alcohol-related problems was consistently predicted by variables associated with higher levels of negative affect and poorer behavioural and affective self-regulation. This relationship was evident across all four domains of affect examined. Conclusions: Among Australian adolescents, the initiation of alcohol use during mid-adolescence and tendency to drink heavily by age 16 may be not be strongly motivated by individual differences in affect. In contrast, affective dysregulation appears to be a robust predictor of alcohol-related problems during this period, and can impart risk over and above the influence of heavy use. These findings suggest a number of avenues for prevention and intervention efforts aimed to reduce the prevalence of underage drinking and its associated harms.
Keywordsaffect; alcohol; adolescence
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