Can DUIs Be Predicted?

Access to alcohol in the home may be a predictor of DUIs in young adulthood

(RxWiki News) Why are some people more likely to drink and drive than others? Is it a cultural issue? New research suggests it may be linked with attitudes about alcohol in the home during the teen years.

Researchers followed a large group of teens to see who was more likely to end up driving under the influence of alcohol when they became young adults.

Results showed that easy access to alcohol in the home was the greatest predictor for driving under the influence in the future. This finding applied to teens of white, Hispanic and Asian backgrounds. The same link was not found in black young adults.

"Keep an eye on alcohol in the home."

Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, PhD, assistant professor, and Chris Delcher, MS, epidemiologist, in the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy at the University of Florida in Gainesville, worked together to investigate early life risk factors for drinking and driving.

The study included 10,271 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health from 1995 to 2001. These teens were evaluated for early risk factors that could have influenced their chances of choosing to drink and drive in young adulthood. These factors included household income, religion, peer influence, parental alcohol use, home environment and access to alcohol. Participants also provided information on their drinking habits, smoking habits, drug use and reckless behaviors.

The group was 49 percent male, 67 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, 16 percent black and 4 percent Asian.

The study showed that overall, whites were most likely to drive under the influence. Reckless behavior and risk-taking attitudes, marijuana use and religious affiliation were risk factors for driving under the influence in whites only.

Researchers found white youths were 1.25 times more likely to drive under the influence later in life if they were raised in a household with easy access to alcohol when compared to white youths who were not. Hispanic youths were 2.02 times more likely and Asian youths were 1.90 times likely to do the same. Easy access to alcohol did not appear to be a risk factor for black youth.

The authors recommended that interventions for alcohol misuse and driving under the influence use racially/ethnically tailored information for identifying risk factors.

While this information was derived from a large, long-term study, relying solely on statistical data for races and ethnicities in this fashion could result in misguided interventions.

This study was published in January in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations provided support for this project. No conflicts of interest were found.

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Review Date: 
January 24, 2013