Academic Giftedness and Alcohol Use in Early Adolescence.
Adolescence is a period of development particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol use, with recent studies underscoring alcohol's effects on adolescent brain development. Despite the alarming rates and consequences of adolescent alcohol use, gifted adolescents are often overlooked as being at risk for early alcohol use. Although gifted adolescents may possess protective factors that likely inhibit the use of alcohol, some gifted youth may be vulnerable to initiating alcohol use during adolescence as experimenting with alcohol may be one way gifted youth choose to compensate for the social price (whether real or perceived) of their academic talents. To address the dearth of research on alcohol use among gifted adolescents the current study (a) examined the extent to which gifted adolescents use alcohol relative to their nongifted peers and (b) examined the adjustment profile of gifted adolescents who had tried alcohol relative to nongifted adolescents who tried alcohol as well as gifted and nongifted abstainers. More than 300 students in seventh grade (42.5% gifted) participated in the present study. Results indicated gifted students have, in fact, tried alcohol at rates that do not differ from nongifted students. Although trying alcohol was generally associated with negative adjustment, giftedness served as a moderating factor such that gifted students who had tried alcohol were less at risk than their nongifted peers. However, evidence also suggests that gifted adolescents who tried alcohol may be a part of a peer context that promotes substance use, which may place these youth at risk for adjustment difficulties in the future.
Peairs, KF; Eichen, D; Putallaz, M; Costanzo, PR; Grimes, CL
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