Adulthood sequela of adolescent heavy drinking among Mexican Americans

William A. Vega, Ethel Alderete, Bohdan Kolody, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study examines mental health and behavioral sequela of heavy drinking in adolescence among Mexican American adults between 18 and 59 years of age. Previous research with U.S. population samples has shown that role performance and role transitions in adulthood are impaired by adolescent substance abuse problems. To test this hypothesis, data from the Mexican American Prevalence and Services Survey were used. Using bivariate and multivariate analyses, early adolescent heavy drinkers were compared with adult heavy drinkers, light to moderate drinkers, and abstainers on various outcomes. Outcomes included DSM-III-R mood, anxiety, and drug abuse or dependence assessed by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview in a probability sample of 3,000 adults in Fresno, California. Whereas adolescent heavy drinkers had higher life-time mood and drug abuse or dependence disorders, and higher rates of suicide attempts and behavior problems than abstainers or moderate drinkers, adult heavy drinkers also had high rates of mood disorders and arrests in bivariate comparisons. In multivariate contrasts, adolescent heavy drinkers were three times more likely to have lifetime drug abuse or dependence diagnoses than the other subgroups and were twice as likely to have attempted suicide. Implications for preventive interventions in the Mexican American population are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-266
Number of pages13
JournalHispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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