Age of Onset of First Alcohol Intoxication and Subsequent Alcohol Use Among Urban American Indian Adolescents

Kimberly L. Henry, James N. McDonald, Eugene R. Oetting, Patricia Silk Walker, R. Dale Walker, Fred Beauvais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The objective was to assess the effect of early onset intoxication on subsequent alcohol involvement among urban American Indian youth. The data come from the American Indian Research (AIR) project, a panel study of urban Indian youth residing in King County, Washington. Data were collected annually from the adolescent and his/her primary caregiver from the 1988-89 school year to the 1996-97 school year, providing a total of nine waves of data. Early intoxication (by age 14) was related to delinquency, family history of alcohol abuse or dependence, poverty, broken family structure, less family cohesiveness, and more family conflict. The effects of these characteristics were, therefore, partialed out in testing effects of early intoxication on later alcohol involvement. Two-part latent growth models of alcohol use and alcohol problems were specified. Effects of early onset intoxication on these trajectories, as well as lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence by the transition to young adulthood, were examined. Findings indicate that adolescents who experienced their first intoxication early (by age 14), used alcohol more heavily from the ages of 16 to 18, experienced more problems related to the alcohol's use from the ages of 16 to 18, and were more likely to have a diagnosed alcohol disorder by the final wave of data collection. Congruent with similar studies in the general population, early intoxication appears to be associated with a deleterious course of alcohol involvement during adolescence and into the transition to young adulthood among urban American Indian youth. Implications for prevention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol problems
  • Alcohol use
  • American Indian adolescents
  • Early onset
  • Two-part model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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