Risk factors associated with curiosity about alcohol use in the ABCD cohort

Natasha E. Wade, Clare E. Palmer, Marybel R. Gonzalez, Alexander L. Wallace, M. Alejandra Infante, Susan F. Tapert, Joanna Jacobus, Kara S. Bagot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Curiosity and intent to use alcohol in pre-adolescence is a risk factor for later experimentation and use, yet we know little of how curiosity about use develops. Here, we examine factors that may influence curiosity about alcohol use, as it may be an important predictor of later drinking behavior. Cross-sectional data on youth ages 10–11 from the ongoing Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development℠ (ABCD) Study Year 1 follow-up were used (n = 2,334; NDA 2.0.1). All participants were substance-naïve at time of assessment. Group factor analysis identified latent factors across common indicators of risk for early substance use (i.e., psychopathology and trait characteristics; substance use attitudes/behaviors; neurocognition; family and environment). Logistic mixed-effect models tested associations between latent factors of risk for early substance use and curiosity about alcohol use, controlling for demographics and study site. Two multidimensional factors were significantly inversely and positively associated with greater curiosity about alcohol use, respectively: 1) low internalizing and externalizing symptomatology coupled with low impulsivity, perceived neighborhood safety, negative parental history of alcohol use problems, and fewer adverse life experiences and family conflict; and 2) low perceived risk of alcohol use coupled with lack of peer disapproval of use. When assessing all risk factors in an overall regression, lack of perceived harm from trying alcohol once or twice was associated with greater likelihood of alcohol curiosity. Taken together, perceptions that alcohol use causes little harm and having peers with similar beliefs is related to curiosity about alcohol use among substance-naïve 10–11-year-olds. General mental health and environmental risk factors similarly increase the odds of curiosity for alcohol. Identification of multidimensional risk factors for early alcohol use may point to novel prevention and early intervention targets. Future longitudinal investigations in the ABCD cohort will determine the extent to which these factors and curiosity predict alcohol use among youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
StatePublished - May 2021


  • alcohol
  • alcohol curiosity
  • children
  • intent to use
  • pre-adolescent


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