Early signs of antisocial behaviour not underage drinking may best predict future alcohol-related trouble among young people, experts say.
A study published in the Journal Alcohol and Alcoholism reveals that the strongest predictor of alcohol-related trouble among 15-year-olds is antisocial behaviour.
Experts studied 2,000 school pupils and the relationship between underage drinking and alcohol-related trouble.
Lead author Robert Young of the Medical Research Council in Glasgow said: "Over the long term, it is past antisocial behaviour, even as early as primary school, which predicts future drinking, rather than the reverse.
"Young people who have an antisocial past are much more likely to drink heavily or get into alcohol-related trouble in the future."
Teenagers inclined towards antisocial behaviour were particularly prone to alcohol-related trouble, with equally valid results for both girls and boys.
Young added: "This research suggests the problem is not that drinking in young people inevitably leads to antisocial behaviour, but rather it is young people who already have a violent or antisocial tendency who are more likely to carry out antisocial acts when drinking."