Autistic traits and alcohol use in adolescents within the general population

European child & adolescent psychiatry

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2022 Mar 23. doi: 10.1007/s00787-022-01970-3. Online ahead of print.


It has been suggested that autistic traits are associated with less frequent alcohol use in adolescence. Our study seeks to examine the relationship between autistic traits and alcohol use in a large adolescent population. Leveraging data from the IMAGEN cohort, including 2045 14-year-old adolescents that were followed-up to age 18, we selected items on social preference/skills and rigidity from different questionnaires. We used linear regression models to (1) test the effect of the sum scores on the prevalence of alcohol use (AUDIT-C) over time, (2) explore the relationship between autistic traits and alcohol use patterns, and (3) explore the specific effect of each autistic trait on alcohol use. Higher scores on the selected items were associated with trajectories of less alcohol use from the ages between 14 and 18 (b = - 0.030; CI 95% = - 0.042, - 0.017; p < 0.001). Among adolescents who used alcohol, those who reported more autistic traits were also drinking less per occasion than their peers and were less likely to engage in binge drinking. We found significant associations between alcohol use and social preference (p < 0.001), nervousness for new situations (p = 0.001), and detail orientation (p < 0.001). Autistic traits (social impairment, detail orientation, and anxiety) may buffer against alcohol use in adolescence.

PMID:35318541 | DOI:10.1007/s00787-022-01970-3


Lisa J Pijnenburg
Anais Kaplun
Lieuwe de Haan
Magdalena Janecka
Lauren Smith
Abraham Reichenberg
Tobias Banaschewski
Arun L W Bokde
Erin Burke Quinlan
Sylvane Desrivières
Antoine Grigis
Hugh Garavan
Penny Gowland
Andreas Heinz
Bernd Ittermann
Jean-Luc Martinot
Marie-Laure Paillère Martinot
Frauke Nees
Dimitri Papadopoulos Orfanos
Tomáš Paus
Luise Poustka
Sarah Hohmann
Sabina Millenet
Juliane H Fröhner
Michael N Smolka
Henrik Walter
Robert Whelan
Gunter Schumann
Eva Velthorst
IMAGEN Consortium