Alcohol abuse is one of the costliest human health problems in the United States. Studies assessing the etiology of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) in adulthood suggest that these disorders are predicted by trait-like differences, such as low or impaired central serotonin or temperamental anxiety. Few studies, however, have assessed neonatal, infant, and adolescent characteristics that lead to alcohol abuse in adolescence. Given that the expression of AUDs is rooted in biological processes, the set of studies presented in this work investigate the early origins of excessive alcohol use in adolescence, with an overall goal of identifying risk factors that may aid in prevention or intervention efforts to deter future alcohol abuse. Due to their evolutionary similarities, as well as similarities in their patterns of alcohol consumption, these studies utilize a nonhuman primate model (Macaca mulatta). A series of three studies investigating neonatal, infant, and adolescent predictors of adolescent alcohol intake were conducted. In study one, we assessed the relationship between neurobehavioral measures at two weeks of life and voluntary alcohol intake in adolescence. In study two, we assessed the relationship between behaviors that reflect an anxiety-like temperament in the first six months of life and excessive alcohol intake in adolescence. In study three, we investigated the relationship between infant and adolescent trait-like stress-induced cortisol and adolescent anxiety-like behaviors and alcohol intake in adolescence. The findings from this set of studies lends itself to an increased understanding of early-life, biologically-based predictors of excessive alcohol intake in adolescence and provides critical information to establishing early interventions for individuals at risk for the development of later AUDs.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





adolescence, alcohol use disorders, anxiety, rhesus monkeys, temperament