Exploration of Pathways to Binge Drinking Among American Indian Adolescents

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Binge drinking is a serious public health problem among American Indian adolescents, yet few theoretical models specific to this population and type of problematic drinking have been tested. The White Mountain Apache Tribe has begun surveillance of binge drinking and a related line of research to inform tailored prevention efforts. The goal of this paper is to use structural equation modeling to understand the relationships between different individual, family, peer, and cultural factors that predict or protect against binge drinking behavior among Apache adolescents ages 10–19 years old. A cross-sectional case–control study was completed with N = 68 Apache adolescents who required medical attention due to a recent binge event (past 90 days) and N = 55 controls with no lifetime history of binge drinking. The hypothesized model was estimated with Mplus using the WLSMV robust least squares estimator. In the final model, stressful life events were related to family functioning and peer relationships. In turn, family functioning affected peer relationships and adolescent impulsivity, which were both associated with greater risk of binge drinking. The path between peer relationships and having engaged in binge drinking was statistically significant for those expressing lower cultural identity, but not for those reporting higher cultural identity. Findings suggest preventive interventions should emphasize teaching coping skills to manage life stressors and handle impulsivity, strengthening families, and changing peer dynamics with social network-based approaches as well as social skill training. The model highlights the potentially important role of culture in strengthening positive peer relationships to reduce binge drinking risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-554
Number of pages10
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Adolescent
  • American Indian
  • Binge drinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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