Underage drinking among close friends high indicator of future alcohol use by black teens

October 31, 2011

Research led by University of Southern California (USC) professor Mary Ann Pentz, Ph.D., shows that black middle school students whose close friends drink alcohol are more likely to drink alcohol in high school than their white classmates.

The study, which appears in the September-October 2011 issue of the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, identifies a group at high risk for alcohol use that may benefit from special prevention programs.

"As you age, both the perception of alcohol use and actual use increase," said Pentz, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of the school's Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research. "But what we found was that black students' perception of their close friends using alcohol was a stronger indicator of their use than among white students. We think the reason is that it is so unusual for black students to be using alcohol at that age."

The study confirms previous research that, overall, black students are less likely to drink alcohol and consume less alcohol than their white counterparts. Black students reported fewer close friends who drank alcohol during the seventh grade and gained fewer such friends in middle school than white students. However, the black students who reported having close friends who drank alcohol in the seventh grade were significantly more likely to use alcohol in high school than white students who reported the same.

The results help guide the design and implementation of drug and alcohol prevention programs.

"Black adolescents may be on a delayed path to alcohol use relative to white adolescents. So, in addition to middle school, it might benefit black students to be exposed to prevention programs later in high school when peer influences are increasing," Pentz said.

Researchers analyzed data from 680 adolescents who participated in Project STAR (Students Taught Awareness and Resistance) of the Midwestern Prevention Project, one of the longest running drug prevention studies in the United States. Pentz was the principal investigator of that study, which she and colleagues started in the Kansas City metro area in 1984. Students were asked to indicate the percentage of their peers that they believed were drinking alcohol and the number of close friends who drank alcohol. They were also asked how many alcoholic drinks they had consumed in the past month. The students' answers from the seventh and eighth grades were compared to their answers during high school.

Pentz suggests future research on whether socioeconomic and cultural aspects influence underage drinking more than race.

"We need to start looking at other environmental and structural factors that drive risk," she said. "Maybe it's the ecological levels of influence that are driving this, not race."
-end-
Co-authors of the study include Scott R. Weaver, Georgia State University; JeeWon Cheong, University of Pittsburgh; and David P. MacKinnon, Arizona State University. Funding came from the National Institutes of Health.

University of Southern California

Related Alcohol Articles from Brightsurf:

Alcohol use changed right after COVID-19 lockdown
One in four adults reported a change in alcohol use almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued: 14% reported drinking more alcohol and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink and those whose use stayed the same.

Changes in hospitalizations for alcohol use disorder in US
Changes over nearly two decades in the rate of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder in the US were examined in this study.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

New alcohol genes uncovered
Do you have what is known as problematic alcohol use?

Does estrogen influence alcohol use disorder?
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice.

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.

Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.

Read More: Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.