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Why Adolescents Drink

Posted Apr 03 2010 5:28pm
Prevention programs in adolescence are particularly effective if they target homogeneous risk groups of adolescents who share a combination of particular needs and problems. Existing programs tend to focus on adolescents who engage in chronic binge drinking.  These adolescents are often defined as  risky single-occasion drinking (RSOD) adolescents (i.e., five drinks or more at a single occasion) which has typically been associated with low life satisfaction, depression, poor academic performance, and sexually inappropriate behaviour.  A recent study published in the European Journal of Psychological Assessment takes this further by examining RSOD adolescents according to their motivation to engage in drinking. An easy-to-use coding procedure was developed and validated using cluster analyses and structural equation modeling based on two randomly selected subsamples of a nationally representative sample of 2,449 12- to 18-year-old RSOD students in Switzerland. Results revealed that the coding procedure classified RSOD adolescents as either enhancement drinkers (drinking for enjoyment) or coping drinkers (drinking to deal with personal problems). The high concordance  with the results of the cluster analyses demonstrated the convergent validity of the coding classification. The fact that enhancement drinkers in both subsamples were found to go out more frequently in the evenings and to have more satisfactory social relationships, as well as a higher proportion of drinking peers and a lower likelihood to drink at home than coping drinkers demonstrates the concurrent validity of the classification. To conclude, the coding procedure appears to be a valid, reliable, and easy-to-use tool that can help better adapt prevention activities to adolescent risky drinking motives.  The research results are discussed in terms of developing better prevention programs by focusing on specific motivations for drinking in adolescents.

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