Teen alcohol abuse can indirectly influence long-term physical health and life satisfaction

According to a study conducted by Rutgers and Virginia Commonwealth University, teens who abuse alcohol may have more alcohol problems in their 20s and 30s, experience poorer health, and feel less satisfied with their lives.

Published in the journal Alcoholism: clinical and experimental research, researchers defined adolescent alcohol abuse based on responses for frequency of drunkenness, frequency of alcohol consumption, and alcohol problems at 16, 17, and 18.5 year. The early 40s outcomes they measured included life satisfaction, physical symptoms and self-rated health status at age 34.

Using questionnaire data from 2,733 sets of twins born in Finland in the late 1970s, the results remained consistent even after controlling for genetic and environmental factors that twin siblings share. The finding underscores the importance of preventive interventions targeting adolescents with alcohol abuse and mitigating health consequences later in adulthood, the researchers said.

“Longitudinal twin conception is particularly useful in clarifying whether there are confounding family factors that predispose someone to both alcohol abuse in adolescence and poorer physical health and well-being. later in early 40s,” said Jessica Salvatore, study co-author and associate professor and director of the Genes, Environments and Neurodevelopment in Addictions program at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “That’s because the twin design allows us to compare exposures and outcomes over time within the same family.”

Unlike other studies of this type that have found that adolescent alcohol abuse directly influences substance use later in life and mental health-related outcomes, this study found that alcohol use Alcohol in adolescents may indirectly influence long-term physical health and life satisfaction rather than directly influencing them.

Although we observed these effects, they were somewhat modest, suggesting that adolescent alcohol abuse is not the only factor in later poor physical health and dissatisfaction with life. . Persistent alcohol-related problems could also play a role.”

Jessica Salvatore, Associate Professor and Director of the Genes, Environments, and Neurodevelopment in Addictions Program at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

While previous studies of adolescent alcohol abuse often looked at health outcomes in young adults, soon after the adolescent survey, researchers in this study looked at health outcomes over several decades until the early forties.

“This study is unique in that it seeks to understand whether the consequences of poor physical health continue beyond the twenties,” Salvatore said. “Our findings imply that adolescent alcohol use and subsequent consequences are observed two decades later across multiple developmental stages.”

The results indicate the indirect influence of adolescent alcohol consumption on physical health and midlife outcomes and underscore the need for prevention strategies for better long-term health. Understanding these long-term effects will provide insight into targeted early adolescent interventions that can prevent or mitigate long-term negative health consequences and improve quality of life across the lifespan.


Journal reference:

Pascale, A. et al. (2022) Exploring relationships between adolescent alcohol abuse and health outcomes later in life. Clinical and experimental research on alcoholism. doi.org/10.1111/acer.14917.

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