The relationship between childhood conduct disorder and adult antisocial behavior is partially mediated by early-onset alcohol abuse
Howard, Richard C.
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Early-onset alcohol abuse (EOAA) was previously found to both mediate and moderate the effect of childhood conduct disorder (CD) on adult antisocial behavior (ASB) in an American community sample of young adults (Howard, R., Finn, P. R., Gallagher, J., & Jose, P. (2011). Adolescent-onset alcohol abuse exacerbates the influence of childhood conduct disorder on late adolescent and early adult antisocial behavior. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/14789949.2011.641996). This study tested whether this result would generalize to a British forensic sample comprising 100 male forensic patients with confirmed personality disorder. Results confirmed that those in whom EOAA co-occurred with CD showed the highest level of personality pathology, particularly Cluster B traits and antisocial/borderline comorbidity. Those with co-occurring CD with EOAA, compared with those showing only CD, showed more violence in their criminal history and greater recreational drug use. Regression analysis showed that both EOAA and CD predicted adult ASB when covariates were controlled. Further analysis showed that EOAA significantly mediated but did not moderate the effect of CD on ASB. The failure to demonstrate an exacerbating effect of EOAA on the relationship between CD and ASB likely reflects the high prevalence of CD in this forensic sample. Some implications of these findings are discussed.