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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms Predict Alcohol Expectancy Development



Positive alcohol expectancies and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are independent risk factors for adolescent alcohol problems and substance use disorders. However, the association of early ADHD diagnostic status, as well as its separate dimensions of inattention and hyperactivity, with alcohol expectancies is essentially unknown.


At baseline (i.e., Wave 1), parents of 139 6-to 9-year-old children (71% male) with (N = 77; 55%) and without (N = 62; 45%) ADHD completed structured diagnostic interviews of child psychopathology. Approximately two years later (i.e., Wave 2), children completed a Memory Model-Based Expectancy Questionnaire (MMBEQ) to ascertain their positive and negative expectancies regarding alcohol use. All children were alcohol naïve at both baseline and follow-up assessments.


Controlling for age, sex, IQ, as well as the number of Wave 1 oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) symptoms, the number of baseline hyperactivity symptoms prospectively predicted more positive arousing (i.e., MMBEQ "wild and crazy" subscale) alcohol expectancies at Wave 2. No predictive association was observed for the number of Wave 1 inattention symptoms and alcohol expectancies.


Childhood hyperactivity prospectively and positively predicted expectancies regarding the arousing properties of alcohol, independent of inattention and ODD/CD symptoms, as well as other key covariates. Even in the absence of explicit alcohol engagement, youths with elevated hyperactivity may benefit from targeted intervention given its association with more positive arousing alcohol expectancies.

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