Page last updated: October 25, 2013
New evidence suggests impulsive adolescents more likely to drink heavily

A study investigated reciprocal prospective relationships between multiple behavioural impulsivity tasks (assessing delay discounting, risktaking and disinhibition) and alcohol involvement (consumption, drunkenness and problems) among adolescents. The researchers hypothesized that performance on the tasks would predict subsequent alcohol involvement, and that alcohol involvement would lead to increases in behavioural impulsivity over time.
The classroom based study involved Two hundred and eighty-seven adolescents who were aged 12 or 13 years at study enrolment from secondary schools in North West England. The study assessed impulsivity
and alcohol involvement five times over 2 years (once every 6 months, on average).
Participants reported their alcohol involvement and completed computerized tasks of disinhibition, delay discounting and risk-taking at each assessment. Crosssectional and prospective relationships between the variables of interest were investigated using crosslagged analyses.
The researchers found that all behavioural impulsivity tasks predicted a composite index of alcohol involvement 6 months later, and these prospective relationships were reliable across the majority of timepoints.
They did not however observe the converse relationship across time: alcohol involvement did not predict performance on behavioural impulsivity tasks at any subsequent time point. The authors conclude that several measures of impulsivity predict escalation in alcohol involvement in young adolescents, but alcohol use does not appear to alter impulsivity.
Source: Multiple behavioural impulsivity tasks predict prospective alcohol involvement in adolescents. Gordon Fernie, Margot Peeters, Matthew J. Gullo, Paul Christiansen, Jon C. Cole, Harry Sumnall, Matt Field, Addiction, first
published online: 14 August 2013.

All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.