Addiction Research


Adolescent Drinking Partnerships and Problem Behaviors

Jacquelyn D. Wiersma-Mosley and Judith L. Fischer

Although experimenting with alcohol and romantic partnerships increases over adolescence, there is little research on adolescent drinking behaviors in the context of romantic partnerships. Thus, it is difficult to identify the influences of drinking partnerships on a myriad of adolescent problem behaviors, including intrapersonal (low self-esteem; depression; adolescent alcohol use; delinquency), interpersonal (peer alcohol use; low family support; intimate partner violence) and school level behaviors (low grade point average and school attachment, more school problems). Data come from the Add Health (Waves I and II), a longitudinal study of adolescent healthrelated behaviors and outcomes. Approximately 2,023 respondents reported at least one opposite-sex relationship in the last 18 months. A k-means iterative cluster analysis identified four Wave I clusters: (a) Light and Infrequent, (b) Discrepant Male Heavy and Frequent, (c) Discrepant Female Heavy and Frequent, and (d) Heavy and Frequent Drinkers. In general, discrepant heavy male and heavy female drinking partnerships involved individuals at risk for later problems, consequences which varied by gender and type of problem. Findings can inform future prevention designs to reduce problems for adolescents by identifying risky drinking partnerships.