Background: Data from adult community samples indicate that alcohol dependence originates in late adolescence, thus marking that period as a fruitful one for the study of transitions in drinking. Methods: Using retrospective data about the timing of alcohol symptom onset from 1799 female twins who participated in the Missouri Adolescent Female Twin Study (MOAFTS), we integrated person-centered (PC) and variable-centered (VC) analyses to study 1-year transitions in alcohol symptomatology. A person-year data set reflecting the onset of 15 alcohol dependence symptoms was constructed, with each year in the young woman's life from the year of her first drink to her current age counting as one observation. Latent class analysis - a PC technique - identified classes of alcohol symptomatology for each person- year, and a lag function was used to identify class membership 1 year earlier. One-year transitions in drinking - a VC analysis - were then studied. Results: Smoking, marijuana use, and conduct problems were consistent promoters of transitions to more severe drinking classes, but depressed affect was not a significant predictor. Parental history of alcohol problems or excessive drinking, particularly maternal history, was a significant predictor of more serious transitions to moderate and dependent problem drinking. Conclusions: These data confirm that even over a 1-year time frame there was considerable change in drinking patterns in this adolescent sample. Smoking was as potent a risk factor as conduct problems in promoting the progression of alcohol symptomatology, and the role of familial factors was found to be influential in transitions at the more severe end of the drinking spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)914-923
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2000


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol Problems
  • Latent Class Analysis
  • Smoking
  • Transitions


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