Developmental Associations Between Adolescent Alcohol Use and Dating Aggression


  • Support for this dissertation research was provided by an individual National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship awarded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (F31AA017015), and by an institutional National Research Service Award Pre-Doctoral Fellowship awarded by the National Institute on Child and Human Development (T32 HD07376) to the Carolina Consortium on Human Development at the Center for Developmental Science.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Heathe Luz McNaughton Reyes, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#7440, Chapell Hill, NC 29975-7440. E-mail:


Although numerous studies have established a link between alcohol use and partner violence in adulthood, little research has examined this relation during adolescence. The current study used multivariate growth models to examine relations between alcohol use and dating aggression across Grades 8 through 12, controlling for shared risk factors (common causes) that predict both behaviors. Associations between trajectories of alcohol use and dating aggression were reduced substantially when common causes were controlled. Concurrent associations between the two behaviors were significant across nearly all grades but no evidence was found for prospective connections from prior alcohol use to subsequent dating aggression or vice versa. Findings suggest that prevention efforts should target common causes of alcohol use and dating aggression.