Aggressive behaviour increases adolescent drinking, depression doesn't

Adolescents who behave aggressively are more likely to drink alcohol and in larger quantities than their peers, according to a recent study completed in Finland. Depression and anxiety, on the other hand, were not linked to increased alcohol use. The study investigated the association between psychosocial problems and alcohol use among 4074 Finnish 13- to 18-year-old adolescents. The results were published in Journal of Adolescence.

The results indicate that smoking and attention problems also increase the probability of alcohol use. Furthermore, among girls, early menarche and parental divorce are also associated with alcohol use. The study found aggressive behaviour to be more common in girls than in boys, which is a novel result.

"The findings raise questions about a possible change in the behaviour of adolescent girls and their vulnerability during adolescent social and emotional development," says Eila Laukkanen, Professor and Chief Physician of Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital.

Out of all the study participants, 60% reported to use alcohol. Already among 15-year-olds, more than 50% reported to use alcohol. No significant differences between the alcohol use of boys and girls were found. The proportion of adolescents who use alcohol has not grown in comparison to earlier studies; however, many adolescents consume high amounts of alcohol - and even amounts that exceed the risk levels. Alcohol use that begins early in adolescence can increase the probability of mental health problems and alcohol dependence, and be detrimental to brain development.

The study was carried out in cooperation between the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio University Hospital, the University of Tampere, and Päijät-Häme Central Hospital.

For further information, please contact:

Petri Kivimäki, MB, University of Eastern Finland, School of Medicine, pkivimak(at)student.uef.fi , +358504131469

Professor, Chief Physician Eila Laukkanen, University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, eila.laukkanen(at)kuh.fi +358447172994

Research article:
Petri Kivimäki, Virve Kekkonen, Hannu Valtonen, Tommi Tolmunen, Kirsi Honkalampi, Ulrich Tacke, Jukka Hintikka, Soili M. Lehto, Eila Laukkanen. Alcohol use among adolescents, aggressive behaviour, and internalizing problems. Journal of Adolescence. Volume 37, Issue 6, August 2014, 945–951.

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The University of Eastern Finland, UEF, is one of the largest universities in Finland. The activities of the UEF underscore multidisciplinarity, and the university is especially strong in research related to forests and the environment, health and well-being, and new technologies and materials. The UEF offers teaching in more than 100 major subjects. In addition to the high standard of teaching, the university offers its students a modern study environment, which is under constant development. The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The university’s campuses are located in the heart of beautiful eastern Finland in Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The UEF is home to approximately 15 000 students and nearly 2 800 members of staff.

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