Parent Alcohol Use and Problems in Children’s Alcohol-Related Learning and Subsequent Alcohol Use

Michelle J. Zaso, Rina D. Eiden, Kenneth E. Leonard, Craig R. Colder, Jennifer A. Livingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Alcohol cognitions can emerge early in life and have lasting associations with alcohol use behavior. Observational learning theories suggest that witnessing alcohol use and its consequences may be an important mechanism underlying early development of alcohol cognitions. Parents are among the earliest contributors to children’s alcohol-related learning, although findings regarding the association of parental alcohol use and problems with children’s alcohol-related beliefs and attitudes are considerably mixed. This study tested associations of parent alcohol use and problems with adolescent alcohol expectancies, motives, and subsequent alcohol use to help clarify this literature. Methods: Families (N = 227) comprising family alcohol use disorder cases and demographically matched controls were recruited as part of a longitudinal investigation on child development. Parents reported on their alcohol use and problems at seven assessments throughout the index adolescents’ childhood, and adolescents reported on their own alcohol expectancies in 6th grade, alcohol motives in 8th grade, and alcohol use in 12th grade. Results: Father alcohol problems and mother alcohol use were linked to more positive and less negative child alcohol expectancies, respectively. However, these cognitions did not contribute unique variance in adolescent alcohol use after accounting for additional risks included in the model. Conclusions: Findings highlight the need for future research aimed at modeling broader and potentially indirect sources of parent influences on adolescent alcohol-related learning and subsequent drinking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1829-1838
Number of pages10
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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