Developmental Etiologies of Alcohol Use and Their Relations to Parent and Peer Influences Over Adolescence and Young Adulthood: A Genetically Informed Approach

Arielle R. Deutsch, Phillip K. Wood, Wendy S. Slutske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Distinct changes in alcohol use etiologies occur during adolescence and young adulthood. Additionally, measured environments known to influence alcohol use such as peers and parenting practice can interact or be associated with this genetic influence. However, change in genetic and environmental influences over age, as well as how associations with measured environments change over age, is understudied. Methods: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) sibling subsample was used to examine data-driven biometric models of alcohol use over ages 13 to 27. Associations between friends’ drinking, parental autonomy granting, and maternal closeness were also examined. Results: The best-fitting model included a 5-factor model consisting of early (ages 13 to 20) and overall (ages 13 to 27) additive genetic and unique environmental factors, as well as 1 overall common environment factor. The overall additive genetic factor and the early unique environment factor explained the preponderance of mean differences in the alcohol use over this portion of the life span. The most important factors explaining variance attributed to alcohol use changed over age. Additionally, friend use had the strongest associations with genetic and environmental factors at all ages, while parenting practices had almost no associations at any age. Conclusions: These results supplement previous studies indicating changes in genetic and environmental influences in alcohol use over adolescence and adulthood. However, prior research suggesting that constraining exogenous predictors of genetic and environmental factors to have effects of the same magnitude across age overlooks the differential role of factors associated with alcohol use during adolescence. Consonant with previous research, friend use appears to have a more pervasive influence on alcohol use than parental influence during this age. Interventions and prevention programs geared toward reducing alcohol use in younger populations may benefit from focus on peer influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2151-2162
Number of pages12
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral Genetics
  • Developmental Change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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