A new study shows that adolescent drinking problems may predict a person’s dependence on alcohol in early adulthood.
Indiana University emeritus psychology professor Richard Rose studied almost 600 pairs of twins from Finland for two decades and finds the association between teen drinking problems and adult alcoholism is stronger in women than in men. Rose says women were found to be more sensitive and vulnerable to a variety of environmental risks which can lead to alcohol dependency.
“If you take twin sisters,” he says, “one of whom who was drinking excessively at age 18 and the other not, the evidence is it is the heavily drinking twin sister at age 18 who is at much greater risk of alcohol dependency at age 25.”
Rose believes teen alcoholism is an increasing problem.
“Adolescents,” Rose says, “are beginning both drinking and smoking at earlier ages, boys and girls are maturing faster than in earlier generations, and there’s no question that earlier the age of onset of alcohol exposure, the more likely there is greater vulnerability.”
Rose is continuing his research with a larger study of 4,000 Finnish twins to study the association between alcohol abuse by age 18 and dropout rates, early sexual experiences and adult substance abuse. Rose and his colleagues will be submitting their findings for publication in the near future.