Binge drinking in adolescence predicts an atypical cortisol stress response in young adulthood

Melissa J. Hagan, Kathryn Modecki, Lucy Moctezuma Tan, Linda Luecken, Sharlene Wolchik, Irwin Sandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a sensitive developmental period in which substance use can exert long-term effects on important biological systems. Emerging cross-sectional research indicates that problematic alcohol consumption may be associated with dysregulated neuroendocrine system functioning. The current study evaluated the prospective effects of binge drinking in adolescence on cortisol stress reactivity in young adulthood among individuals who had experienced parental divorce in childhood (N = 160; Mean age = 25.55, SD = 1.22; 46.9% Female; 88.8% White Non-Hispanic). Youth completed validated measures of problematic drinking during adolescence (aged 15–19) and participated in a standardized social stress task nine years later in young adulthood. Latent growth modeling was conducted within a structural equation modeling framework. Greater binge drinking during adolescence was associated with a significantly lower cortisol stress response in young adulthood, controlling for young adult drinking, sex, childhood externalizing problems, and socioeconomic status. Findings suggest problematic alcohol consumption during mid-to-late adolescence may have important effects on the neuroendocrine stress response system at subsequent developmental stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Binge drinking
  • Cortisol
  • Young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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