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New evidence suggests impulsive adolescents more likely to drink heavily
Date:7/3/2013

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have shown that young people who show impulsive tendencies are more prone to drinking heavily at an early age.

The research suggests that targeting personality traits, such as impulsivity, could potentially be a successful intervention in preventing adolescent drinking from developing into problems with alcohol in later life.

Studies in the UK show that approximately 24% of 12 year olds have reported at least one episode of alcohol consumption, rising to 77% of 15 year olds.

Previous research has suggested that impulsive behaviour is linked with adolescent drinking, but it is unclear whether young people who are impulsive tend to drink more, or whether drinking whilst the brain is still developing is particularly harmful and can lead to the progression of impulsive behaviours.

The team used computer tests that measured inhibitory control, the ability to delay gratification, and risk-taking. More than 280 young people who were aged 12 or 13 at the beginning of the study took part in the study. The participants repeated the computer tests every six months over the two years of the study.

Results showed that those participants who were more impulsive in the tests went on to drink more heavily or have problems with alcohol at a later time. The study did not, however, show that alcohol consumption led to increased impulsive behaviour on the computer tests. This suggests that there is a link between impulsivity and adolescent drinking, but that alcohol may not necessarily lead to increased impulsive behaviour in the short-term.

Professor Matt Field, from the University's Institute of Psychology Health and Society, explains: "Young people in the UK are starting to drink alcohol at a younger age than in the past, and much of this reflects broad social trends. There are, however, significant differences in the age at which teenagers start to experiment with alcohol an
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Contact: Samantha Martin
samantha.martin@liv.ac.uk
44-015-179-42248
University of Liverpool
Source:Eurekalert

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