Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-65dc7cd545-54nbv Total loading time: 0.37 Render date: 2021-07-23T19:04:58.348Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Risk Factors for Adolescent Alcohol Use Following a Natural Disaster

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2012

Janine M. Schroeder
Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota, USA
Melissa A. Polusny
Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and University of Minnesota School of Medicine



On 29 March 1998, a series of category F-3 and F-4 tornadoes caused wide-spread destruction in four rural southern Minnesota counties in the United States. Extensive research has examined the impact of disaster exposure on adults' psychological functioning, including alcohol use. However, there has been little research on potential risk factors for adolescents' alcohol use following disaster exposure.


It was hypothesized that demographic variables such as age and gender, prior drinking involvement, extent of prior trauma history, level of disaster exposure, and current disaster-related, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology would predict alcohol use among adolescents.


Six months following a natural disaster, survey data were collected from 256 adolescents assessing these factors. Risk factors for adolescents' alcohol use were identified using hierarchical, multiple regression and logistic regression analyses.


Greater age, prior drinking involvement, and the extent of prior trauma history were significantly associated with higher levels of binge drinking. Prior trauma history and current levels of disaster-related PTSD symptomatology were significant risk factors for adolescents' report of increases in their alcohol consumption since the tornado.


In general, the extent of trauma exposure was associated with greater binge drinking among adolescents. Similar to adults, post-traumatic stress symptoms experienced in the aftermath of a disaster can lead to increased alcohol consumption among adolescents.

Special Reports
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2004

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


1.Breslau, N, Davis, GC, Andreski, P, Peterson, E: Traumatic events and posttraumatic stress disorder in an urban population of young adults. Arch Gen Psychiat 1991;48:216222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
2.Brown, PJ, Wolfe, J: Substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder comorbidity. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 1994;35:5159.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
3.Kendler, KS, Bulik, CM, Silberg, J et al. : Childhood sexual abuse and adult psychiatric and substance use disorders in women: An epidemiological and co-twin control analysis. Arch Gen Psychiat 2000;57:953959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
4.Kessler, RC, Sonnega, A, Bromet, E et al. : Post-traumatic stress disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Arch Gen Psychiat 1995;52:10481060.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
5.Kofoed, L, Friedman, MJ, Peck, R: Alcoholism and drug abuse in patients with Post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychiat Quart 1993;64:151171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
6.Ruzek, JI, Polusny, MA, Abueg, FR: Assessment and Treatment of Concurrent Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Abuse. In: Follette, VM, Ruzek, JI, Abueg, FR (eds), Cognitive-behavioral Therapies for Trauma. New York: Guilford Press, 1998, pp 226255.Google Scholar
7.Stewart, SH: Alcohol abuse in individuals exposed to trauma: A critical review. Psychol Bull 1996;120:83112.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
8.Joseph, S, Yule, W, Williams, R, Hodgkinson, P: Increased substance use in survivors of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Brit J Med Psychol 1993;66:185191.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
9.Bravo, M, Rubio-Stipec, M, Canino, GJ et al. : The psychological sequelae of disaster stress prospectively and retrospectively evaluated. Amer J Commun Psychol 1990;18:661680.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
10.David, D, Mellman, TA, Mendoza, LM et al. : Psychiatric morbidity following Hurricane Andrew. J Traum Stress 1996;9:607612.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
11.Smith, EM, North, CS, McCool, RE, Shea, JM: Acute post-disaster psychiatric disorders: Identification of persons at risk. Amer J Psychiat 1990;147:202206.Google Scholar
12.Smith, DW, Christiansen, EH, Vincent, R, Hann, NE: Population effects of the bombing of Oklahoma City. J Oklahoma State Med Assoc 1999;92:193198.Google ScholarPubMed
13.Adams, PR, Adams, GR: Mount Saint Helens's ashfall: Evidence for a disaster stress reaction. Amer Psychol 1984;39:252260.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
14.Sims, A, Sims, D: The phenomenology of post-traumatic stress disorder: A symptomatic study of 70 victims of psychological trauma. Psychopathology 1998;31:96–12.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
15.Pfefferbaum, B, Doughty, DE: Increased alcohol use in a treatment sample of Oklahoma City bombing victims. Psychiat 2001;64:296303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
16.Briere, JN: Child Abuse Trauma: Theory and Treatment of the Lasting Effects. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992.Google Scholar
17.Kilpatrick, DG, Acierno, R, Resnick, HS et al. : A 2-year longitudinal analysis of the relationships between violent assault and substance use in women. J Consult Clin Psychol 1997;65:834847.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
18.Polusny, MA, Follette, VM: Long-term correlates of child sexual abuse: Theory and review of the empirical literature. Applied and Preventive Psychology 1995;4:143166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
19.Miranda, R, Meyerson, LA, Long, PJ et al. : Sexual assault and alcohol use: Exploring the self-medication hypothesis. Violence & Victims 2002;17:205217.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
20.Stewart, SH, Conrod, PJ, Samoluck, SB et al. : Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and situation-specific drinking in women substance abusers. Alcohol Treat Quart 2000;18:3147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
21.Epstein, JN, Saunders, BE, Kilpatrick, DG, Resnick, HS: PTSD as a mediator between childhood rape and alcohol use in adult women. Child Abuse and Neglect 1998;22:223234.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
22.Dembo, R, Williams, L, Wothke, W et al. : The role of family factors, physical abuse, and sexual victimization experiences in high-risk youths' alcohol and other drug use and delinquency: A longitudinal model. Violence and Victims 1992;7:245266.Google ScholarPubMed
23.Harrison, PA, Hoffmann, NG, Edwall, GE: Differential drug use patterns among sexually abused adolescent girls in treatment for chemical dependency. Inter J Addict 1989;24:499514.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
24.Rohsenow, DJ, Corbett, R, Devine, D: Molested as children: A hidden contribution to substance abuse? J Sub Abuse Treat 1988;5:1318.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
25.Kilpatrick, DG, Acierno, R, Saunders, B et al. : Risk factors for adolescent substance abuse and dependence: Data from a national sample. J Consult Clin Psychol 2000;68:1930.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
26.Garrison, CZ, Schoenbach, VJ, Schluchter, MD, Kaplan, BH: Life events in early adolescence. J Amer Acad Child Adol Psychiat 1987;26:865872.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
27.Schulenberg, J, Wadsworth, KN, O'Malley, PM et al. : Adolescent Risk Factors for Binge Drinking During the Transition to Young Adulthood: Variableand Pattern-centered Approaches to Change. In: Marlatt, GA, VandenBos, GR (eds), Addictive Behaviors: Readings on Etiology, Prevention, and Treatment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1997, pp 129165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
28.Burke, KC, Burke, JD, Rae, DS, Regier, DA: Comparing age at onset of major depression and other psychiatric disorders by birth cohorts in five US community populations. Arch Gen Psychiat 1991;48:789795.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
29.Quigley, LA, Marlatt, GA: Drinking among young adults: Prevalence, patterns, and consequences. Alcohol Health and Research World 1996;20:185191.Google Scholar
30.Von Sternberg, B, Meryhew, R, Doyle, P: This is just stuff. We're lucky to be alive. Star Tribune 1998, p 1A.Google Scholar
31.Sinker, H, Doyle, P, deFiebre, C., Shah, A: Picking up the pieces. Star Tribune 1998, p 1A.Google Scholar
32.Polusny, MA, Ries, BJ, Gurwitch, RH et al. : The impact of perceived life threat, social support, and coping on children's and adolescents' PTSD symptoms following a tornado disaster. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Toronto, Canada, 1999.Google Scholar
33.Weiss, DS, Marmar, CR: The Impact of Event Scale-Revised. In: Wilson, JP, Keane, TM (eds), Assessing Psychological Trauma and PTSD. New York: Guilford Press, 1997, pp 399411.Google Scholar
34.Mac Ian, PS, Pearlman LA, : Development and use of the TSI Life Event Questionnaire. Treating Abuse Today 1992;2:911.Google Scholar
35.Pearlman, LA: Psychometric Review of TSI Life Event Questionnaire (Life Events Questionnaire). In: Stamm, BM (ed), Measurement of Stress, Trauma, and Adaptation. Lutherville, MD: Sidran Press, 1996.Google Scholar
36.White, HR, Labouvie, EW: Towards the assessment of adolescent problem drinking. J Stud Alcohol 1989;50:3037.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
37.Baer, JS: Etiology and Secondary Prevention of Alcohol Problems With Young Adults. In: Baer, JS, Marlatt, GA, McMahon, RJ (eds), Addictive Behaviors Across the Life Span: Prevention, Treatment, and Policy Issues. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993, pp 111137.Google Scholar
38.Wechsler, H, Davenport, A, Dowdall, G et al. : Health and behavioral consequences of binge drinking in college: A national survey of students at 140 campuses. JAMA 1994;272:16721677.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
39.Kessler, RC, McGonagle, KA, Zhao, S et al. : Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States: Results from the National Co-morbidity Survey. Arch Gen Psychiat 1994;51:819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
40.Grant, BF: Alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence: The United States as an example. Addiction 1994;89:13571365.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
41.Nace, ER: Epidemiology of alcoholism and prospects for treatment. Ann RevGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Risk Factors for Adolescent Alcohol Use Following a Natural Disaster
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Risk Factors for Adolescent Alcohol Use Following a Natural Disaster
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Risk Factors for Adolescent Alcohol Use Following a Natural Disaster
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *