Change Over Time in Adolescent and Friend Alcohol Use: Differential Associations for Youth With and Without Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at increased risk for experiencing alcohol-related problems by adulthood. However, few studies have examined contextual factors that may contribute to this risk. The current study examined 1 widely investigated social-contextual risk factor, friend alcohol use, in a sample of adolescents with and without a history of ADHD. One hundred and 59 adolescents (14–17 years old) with childhood ADHD and 117 demographically similar youth without ADHD were interviewed annually in the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study. Adolescents reported the frequency of their own alcohol use in the prior 12 months and the number of friends who used alcohol regularly or occasionally (perceived friend alcohol use). Multiple-group parallel process models indicated that increases in friend alcohol use were more strongly associated with increases in adolescent alcohol use over time for individuals with ADHD (r = .15, SE = 0.04; 95% confidence interval [CI] = [0.08, 0.22]) than for those without ADHD (r = .06, SE = 0.03; 95% CI [0.00, 0.11]). These results suggest that social factors are an important part of escalating alcohol use among adolescents with ADHD histories, and they highlight the possibility that interventions focused on the peer context could be important for these at-risk youth. Additional social network research on adolescent alcohol use within the larger context of other relationships (e.g., family and romantic relationships) is indicated.

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