Although longitudinal evidence has linked alcohol use with aggressive behavior during adolescence, most studies have failed to adequately control for the numerous between-individual differences that may underlie this association. In addition, few studies of adolescents have examined whether the nature of the within-individual association between alcohol use and aggression depends on individual and contextual factors. To address these limitations, this study examined the association between within-individual changes in alcohol use and aggressive behavior across adolescence and determined whether impulsive behavior, positive attitudes toward violence, violent peers, neighborhood crime, and race moderated this association. Data from 971 adolescent males assessed annually from ages 13 to 18 were analyzed using a within-individual regression panel model that eliminated all stable between-individual factors as potential confounds. Findings indicated that within-individual increases in alcohol use quantity from one's own typical levels of drinking were concurrently associated with within-individual increases in aggressive behavior, and vice versa. However, increases in alcohol were more strongly linked to increases in aggressive behavior among boys with attitudes favoring violence and those who lived in high-crime neighborhoods. The association between alcohol and aggressive behavior was similar for White and Black young men. Interventions designed to reduce aggressive behaviors should consider targeting not only alcohol use, but also individual and environmental risk factors that contribute to this link.
- Alcohol use