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Teen Drinking Linked to Behavior Problems

Heavy-drinking adolescents are more likely than their peers to have behavioral and attention problems and suffer from anxiety and depression.

Investigators from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) reviewed a survey of nearly 9000 Norwegian teenagers aged 13-19 years.

Their findings are published in the online journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health.

Fully 80 percent of the teenagers said they had tried alcohol, while 29 percent said they had been drunk more than 10 times in their lives.

Boys who drank frequently were more likely to report conduct problems, while girls who drank frequently reported attention and conduct problems, along with depression and anxiety.

Forty-three percent of students who reported behavioral or other problems also reported having been drunk more than 10 times in their lives, while only 27 percent of students who reported few or no conduct problems had been drunk more than 10 times. But boys were only slightly more likely than girls to report drinking heavily.

The team, led by Arve Strandheim from the NTNU Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Public Health and General Practice, used data from a comprehensive, population-based cross-sectional survey called Young HUNT.

Ninety-one percent of the youth population in one Norwegian county answered the drinking and behavioral questionnaire as a part of a larger comprehensive health survey of the entire county’s population aged 13 and older.

Because the study is based on a one-time questionnaire, it does not show a cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers caution. In fact, because conduct and attention problems tend to emerge early in childhood, it seems less likely that adolescent alcohol abuse itself causes mental health problems. But the study does suggest that adolescents with attention and conduct problems are at high risk for developing alcohol problems.

Teenage girls with depression or anxiety symptoms should also be considered at high risk of developing alcohol abuse, the researchers say. This is especially true for younger teen girls (ages 13-16).

Source: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health

Teen Drinking Linked to Behavior Problems

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Teen Drinking Linked to Behavior Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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