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The natural history of risky drinking and associated harms from adolescence to young adulthood: findings from the Australian temperament project

journal contribution
posted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by K S Betts, R Alati, P Baker, Primrose LetcherPrimrose Letcher, Delyse HutchinsonDelyse Hutchinson, George Youssef, Craig OlssonCraig Olsson
BACKGROUND: We aimed to describe the natural history of heavy episodic drinking (HED) and associated harms from adolescence to young adulthood in a large Australian population cohort study. METHOD: The Australian Temperament Project consists of mothers and babies (4-8 months) recruited from Infant Welfare Centres and followed every 2 to 4 years until age 28 years. Analyses were based on data from 1156 young people (497 male; 659 female) surveyed repeatedly at ages 16, 18, 20, 24 and 28 years. We used dual processes latent class growth analysis to estimate trajectories of HED and associated harms, employing a piecewise approach to model the hypothesized rise and subsequent fall across adolescence and the late twenties, respectively. RESULTS: We identified four sex-specific trajectories and observed little evidence of maturing-out across the twenties. In males, a normative pattern of increasing HED across the twenties with little related harm was observed (40% of the male sample). Early and late starter groups that peaked in harms at age 20 years with only minor attenuation in binging thereafter were also observed (6.1% and 35%, respectively). In females, a normative pattern of increasing, but moderate, HED with little related harm was observed (44% of the female sample). Early and late starter groups were also identified (18% and 17%, respectively); however, unlike males, the female late starter group showed a pattern of increasing HED and related harms. CONCLUSIONS: Continued patterns of risky alcohol use and related harms are apparent for both males and females across the twenties.



Psychological medicine






23 - 32


Cambridge University Press


Cambridge, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

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2017, Cambridge University Press