Method: Data from a community sample of adolescents (N=325; Mage (SD)=15.8±0.95 years; 52% female) were analyzed using logistic regression models. Alcohol use was assessed by self-reports of ever and recent (past 30 days) drinking. SS was measured using the Brief Sensation Seeking Scale (Hoyle et al., 2002). AWT was assessed using 9 items from the Junior Eysenck Impulsivity Scale (Eysenck et al., 1984). SSRT was used as the behavioral assessment of IC (Aron & Poldrack, 2006).
Results: Both AWT (B(SE)=1.26 (0.46), p<0.01) and SS (B(SE)=0.67(0.17), p<0.001) were significantly associated with alcohol use. Although SSRT and AWT were correlated at 0.19, SSRT did not have a significant direct effect on alcohol use. Examination of moderation effects revealed a significant interaction between SSRT and SS (B(SE)= -0.01(0.003), p<0.05, such that high levels of SS were associated with greater odds of alcohol use only at low levels of SSRT. These effects were significant controlling for age, gender, race-ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. AWT did not moderate the effect of SS on alcohol use.
Discussion: SS is associated with alcohol use in the context of low IC. AWT, which characterizes poor impulse control over rewarding urges, has a strong independent effect on alcohol use regardless of SS differences. Adolescents with poor impulse control are especially prone to early alcohol use onset and should be targeted in prevention efforts.