The dysfunction of emotional expression as a related factor for alcohol misuse in young adolescents.


Amidst the research on the psycho-behavioral factors correlating with alcohol abuse, numerous studies have identified psychopathological disorders and alexithymic traits in adult alcohol abusers, but this relationship has yet to be studied in adolescents. To a sample of 1,466 students (mean age of 13.5 years) were administered three questionnaires to assess their alcohol consumption, any alexithymic traits, and any psycho-behavioral problems. There was an association between alcohol consumption and psycho-behavioral problems in the sample as a whole, but a statistically significant relationship between alcohol consumption and alexithymia only in the subsample of students attending middle school (sixth to eighth graders). Among these younger adolescents (11 to 13 years old), those with a higher score for alexithymia and psycho-behavioral problems had a significantly greater alcohol consumption than their peers without these psychological traits. Alexithymic traits, especially when associated with psycho-behavioral problems, constitute a risk factor for alcohol consumption in preadolescence.