Adult antisocial behavior (ASB) has been studied extensively in recent years. Determining the factors that contribute to and predict the onset of ASB is essential in order to identify those most at risk. In existing research, links between ASB and adolescent and childhood conduct disorder (CD) have been found. Early-onset alcohol abuse (EOAA) has been shown to be a risk factor for both as well. However, little research has looked at the direct influence of EOAA on CD and subsequent ASB. Youth with CD tend to demonstrate signs of early ASB, such as defiance, isolation, violent behavior, and risk taking. They also are more prone to substance and alcohol use at an early age. Because there is little concrete research exploring the effects of EOAA on CD and ASB, Najat Khalifa of the University of Nottingham in England recently led a study that looked specifically at that relationship.
Khalifa assessed 100 male participants and found that those with both CD and EOAA had the highest rates of ASB and borderline personality issues. The findings also revealed that individuals with either CD or EOAA had a higher risk of ASB than individuals with no history of either. Khalifa added, “Those with co-occurring CD with EOAA, compared with those showing only CD, showed more violence in their criminal history and greater recreational drug use.” These results have significant clinical implications. Specifically, children and adolescents who exhibit conduct problems should be educated about the dangers of EOAA and targeted for treatments that will reduce the likelihood of future substance misuse. In addition, neurological impairments caused by EOAA could provide further insight into the link between EOAA and CD, and EOAA, CD, and ASB. Future work should be devoted to exploring the effects of EOAA on neurological functioning in young adults at risk for CD and EOAA.
Khalifa, N., Duggan, C., Howard, R., Lumsden, J. (2012). The relationship between childhood conduct disorder and adult antisocial behavior is partially mediated by early-onset alcohol abuse. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027017
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