Solitary Alcohol Use in Teens Is Associated With Drinking in Response to Negative Affect and Predicts Alcohol Problems in Young Adulthood
Adolescent solitary drinking may represent an informative divergence from normative behavior, with important implications for understanding risk for alcohol-use disorders later in life. Within a self-medication framework, we hypothesized that solitary alcohol use would be associated with drinking in response to negative affect and that such a pattern of drinking would predict alcohol problems in young adulthood. We tested these predictions in a longitudinal study in which we examined whether solitary drinking in adolescence (ages 12–18) predicted alcohol-use disorders in young adulthood (age 25) in 466 alcohol-using teens recruited from clinical programs and 243 alcohol-using teens recruited from the community. Findings showed that solitary drinking was associated with drinking in response to negative affect during adolescence and predicted alcohol problems in young adulthood. Results indicate that drinking alone is an important type of alcohol-use behavior that increases risk for the escalation of alcohol use and the development of alcohol problems.