Differential predictors for alcohol use in adolescents as a function of familial risk

Traditional models of future alcohol use in adolescents have used variable-centered approaches, predicting alcohol use from a set of variables across entire samples or populations. Following the proposition that predictive factors may vary in adolescents as a function of family history, we used a two-pronged approach by first defining clusters of familial risk, followed by prediction analyses within each cluster. Thus, for the first time in adolescents, we tested whether adolescents with a family history of drug abuse exhibit a set of predictors different from adolescents without a family history. We apply this approach to a genetic risk score and individual differences in personality, cognition, behavior (risk-taking and discounting) substance use behavior at age 14, life events, and functional brain imaging, to predict scores on the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) at age 14 and 16 in a sample of adolescents (N = 1659 at baseline, N = 1327 at follow-up) from the IMAGEN cohort, a longitudinal community-based cohort of adolescents. In the absence of familial risk (n = 616), individual differences in baseline drinking, personality measures (extraversion, negative thinking), discounting behaviors, life events, and ventral striatal activation during reward anticipation were significantly associated with future AUDIT scores, while the overall model explained 22% of the variance in future AUDIT. In the presence of familial risk (n = 711), drinking behavior at age 14, personality measures (extraversion, impulsivity), behavioral risk-taking, and life events were significantly associated with future AUDIT scores, explaining 20.1% of the overall variance. Results suggest that individual differences in personality, cognition, life events, brain function, and drinking behavior contribute differentially to the prediction of future alcohol misuse. This approach may inform more individualized preventive interventions.