Parental and peer influences on the onset of heavier drinking among adolescents

Alan Reifman, Grace M. Barnes, Barbara A. Dintcheff, Michael P. Farrell, Lois Uhteg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


Objective: Less is known about heavier drinking in adolescents than about alcohol initiation. The present study examined the emergence of regular (weekly) and heavy episodic (five or more drinks at a time) adolescent drinking as a function of social influence (modeling and social control) from parents and peers. Method: A three-wave study was conducted using a representative household sample of families in metropolitan Buffalo, New York (N = 612). Over half (54%) of the adolescent respondents were female. Black families made up 30% of the sample. Interviews were conducted at 1-year intervals. Adolescent drinking was dichotomized at each wave into abstinence/light drinking versus regular drinking. Logistic regression including only adolescents who were abstainers/light drinkers at Wave I was performed to assess which Wave-1 variables could predict regular-drinking onset by Wave 2; a similar analysis examined the onset of heavy episodic drinking by Wave 2. Parallel analyses using Wave-2 variables to predict the onset of the drinking outcomes by Wave 3 were also conducted. Results: Across the different analyses, the strongest psychosocial predictors of advancement to heavier drinking were friend's drinking and low parental monitoring. Also, white adolescents were at greater risk than their black counterparts. Conclusions: A multidimensional approach to prevention that addresses different processes of influence (e.g., modeling and social control) involving both parental and peer domains is likely to he most successful in deterring the onset of heavier drinking in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-317
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1998


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