Patterns of family connectedness and trajectories of problem drinking


Collins, Jennifer Cathryn (2013). Patterns of family connectedness and trajectories of problem drinking.


In 2011, 38.7% of high school students reported the consumption of at least one alcoholic drink within the past 30 days. Furthermore, 21.9% reported binge–drinking at least once within the past 30 days (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). While not all of those who abuse alcohol in adolescence and young adulthood chronically struggle with alcohol problems, a significant portion do. Research indicates that family dynamics can significantly influence the trajectory of adolescent substance use. From a Bowenian perspective, the development of alcohol problems during adolescence and young adulthood indicate the family experiences difficulty balancing autonomy and connectedness. However, much of the substance use research rooted in a family–based framework neglects to consider the role of the sibling relationship and family processes such as differential treatment. The present study examined how parent-adolescent connectedness, sibling relationship quality, and parental differential treatment during adolescence influences trajectories of problem drinking in a sample of 492 full-sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Outcomes. Three waves of panel data were analyzed using a dyadic two-level model for longitudinal data. The results confirm the non–independence of sibling problem drinking. Parent–adolescent relationships that are “too close” or “too distant” were associated with marked curvilinearity and trajectories of more chronic problem drinking, respectively. Parental differential treatment was associated with higher problem drinking scores in adolescence and predicted a slightly more chronic course of problematic alcohol use for Sibling 2.
Furthermore, the finding that separateness and connectedness in one parent–adolescent relationship predicted variability in a sibling’s overall trajectory corroborate the notion that parent–child relationships do not take place in isolation of the larger family system (Atzaba-Poria & Pike, 2008). The findings provide further support for a family systems approach to researching, assessing and treating problematic alcohol use.


Reference Type


Book Title

Human Development and Family Science


Collins, Jennifer Cathryn

Series Author(s)

Bartle-Haring, Suzanne

Year Published





Ohio State University

Reference ID