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The validity of adolescent types of alcohol use

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Background:

Alcohol is the most frequently used substance among adolescents with different patterns of consumption. Various types of adolescent alcohol use have been proposed, but only a few studies have looked for external validation of these types. Method:

Data from 794 adolescents participating in the Zurich Adolescent Psychology and Psychopathology Study (ZAPPS) were used to evaluate the discriminant validity of the classification of four types of adolescent drinkers: abstainers, social drinkers, heavy drinkers, and problem drinkers. Data were based on questionnaires dealing with substance abuse, emotional and behavioral problems, life events, coping capacity, self-related cognitions, perceived parental behavior, perceived school environment, and the social network. Results:

There was a clear differentiation of the problem drinkers’ group on almost all dimensions of the emotional and behavioral problems questionnaires, with the heavy drinkers’ profile situated in between on some dimensions, and the abstainers and social drinkers almost ideally meeting the expectation of a mean normal population profile. Problem drinkers were also marked by high life impact scores, low self-esteem, high self-awareness, low perceived parental acceptance and high amount of rejection by the parents, and various indicators of a stressful and less rewarding school environment. Again, the heavy drinkers were positioned on an intermediate level on some of these scales, whereas the abstainers and social drinkers scored more normally. Conclusion:

These findings support the validity of the distinction of various adolescent alcohol use types.
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Keywords: Alcohol abuse; adolescence; classification; types; validity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Zurich, Switzerland

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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