The Co-occurrence of Depressive Symptoms and Alcohol Use for Adolescent Boys and Girls: An Investigation of the Role of Self-Regulation and Approach Behavior
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While many studies have been conducted on adolescent depressive symptoms and alcohol use, much of the research has examined these behaviors separately rather than examining their co-occurrence within individuals. In the present study, adolescents (N = 4412; 49% female) were surveyed at four time points (grade 9, 10, 11, and 12) and growth mixture modeling was used to identify groups of individuals reporting various patterns of depressive symptoms and alcohol use across the high school years. Four groups were identified, including co-occurrence (higher depressive symptoms and higher alcohol use relative to peers, comprising 6.1 % of boys and 7.1 % of the girls in the sample), pure depressive symptoms (higher depressive symptoms and lower alcohol use; 12.7% of boys and 12.5% of girls), pure alcohol use (higher alcohol use and lower depressive symptoms; 20.9% of boys and 19.9% of girls), and low co-occurrence (lower depressive symptoms and alcohol use, 60.3% of boys and 60.5% of girls). Groups were compared on self-regulatory (i.e., delay of gratification) and approach behaviors. For both boys and girls, delay of gratification was the strongest predictor of group membership, with the co-occurrence group scoring the lowest and the low co-occurrence group the highest. This finding emphasizes the importance of assessing delay of gratification in the identification of high risk youth.