The Role of Adolescent Social Relationships in Promoting Alcohol Resistance: Interrupting the Intergenerational Transmission of Alcohol Misuse

Genes play an important role in whether someone develops alcohol use disorder or engages in other risky alcohol behaviors, but not all individuals who are at-risk due to genetic factors go on to misuse alcohol. Yet, little is known about what the “active ingredients” are for promoting resistance to alcohol misuse. In this study, we followed a sample of 1858 adolescents for whom we had genetic information, and examined whether relationships with parents, peers, and romantic partners promoted resistance to three outcomes: early age at initiation, early age at heavy episodic drinking, and lifetime alcohol dependence. Of the parenting, peer, and romantic partner predictors examined, we found that adolescents who reported having a higher-quality relationship with their father were more resistant to early age at initiation. Unexpectedly, we also found that adolescents who were more socially competent were also less resistant to heavy episodic drinking. The findings from this study underscore how little is known about the factors that promote resistance to alcohol misuse, and the need to understand why individuals remain healthy despite being at high biological risk.    

Stephenson M, Aliev F, Kuo SIC, Edwards AC, Pandey G, Su J, Kamarajan C, Dick D, Salvatore JE (2022) The role of adolescent social relationships in promoting alcohol resistance: Interrupting the intergenerational transmission of alcohol misuse. Development and Psychopathology:1-15; DOI: 10.1017/S0954579422000785.