Sunday, February 21, 2016

Relations among Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms and Drinking Frequency During Adolescence

In adolescence, internalizing (e.g., anxious, depressive, and withdrawn) and externalizing (e.g., aggressive, oppositional, delinquent, and hyper-active) symptoms are related with alcohol use. However, the directionality among internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms, and alcohol use during adolescence is equivocal. Moreover, gender differences and similarities among these behaviors are not definitive in existing literature.

This study examined longitudinal relationships between internalizing and externalizing symptoms and past-month alcohol use among adolescent boys and girls.

Using longitudinal survey data from a study of community-dwelling adolescents (n = 724), we estimated cross-lagged structural equation models to test relations between internalizing and externalizing symptoms (as measured by the Youth Self Report, YSR [Achenbach, 1991]) and self-report alcohol use in the past month among adolescents. Gender differences were tested in a multiple group structural equation model.

Alcohol use at age 12 was a predictor of internalizing and externalizing symptoms at age 15 for both boys and girls. With regard to gender differences, girls demonstrated an association between internalizing symptoms and drinking at age 12, whereas boys showed a stronger association between externalizing symptoms and drinking at age 18.

Early alcohol use is problematic for youth, and results of this study lend support to prevention programs for youth. Preventing or curbing early drinking may offset later externalizing and internalizing symptoms, as well as ongoing alcohol use, regardless of gender.

Below:  Cross-lagged model of internalizing and externalizing symptoms and alcohol use

Full article at:

School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Address correspondence to Hyun-Jin Jun, University of Maryland, School of Social Work, 525 West Redwood Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA; ude.dnalyramu.wss@nujh

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