High-intensity drinking and related consequences: Daily data from a national sample aged 19 to 22


Project Summary

High-intensity drinking (consuming 10+ drinks in a row) among young adults has recently been acknowledged as a serious health problem that requires urgent research attention. We have previously documented prevalence, predictors, and developmental change in recollection of any past 2-week high-intensity drinking from ages 18 to 30 through secondary data analysis of the national Monitoring the Future (MTF) study.

We are now collecting intensive longitudinal data to examine occasion-specific predictors and consequences of binge and high-intensity drinking at the period of the lifespan (ages 19-22) where alcohol use is the greatest. Information on occasion-specific predictors and short- and long-term consequences of binge and high-intensity drinking is needed to identify the motives, contexts, and public health impacts that differentiate these heavy levels of alcohol consumption. Building on our recent findings that used biennial data from the nationally representative Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, we plan to conduct new primary longitudinal data collection from a national sample of high school students followed into young adulthood. We will select participants from the 2018 MTF 12th-grade baseline surveys (with an oversample of high school binge drinkers) for a 4-year web-based measurement burst study – a shorter term study within a longitudinal study – across the transition into young adulthood.

We will collect up to 56 days of data per respondent using four annual data collection bursts (14 consecutive days of daily surveys per year at ages 19, 20, 21, and 22). Specific aims are to examine:

  1. When and for whom high-intensity drinking is most likely to occur. We will focus on occasion-level predictors (e.g., affect, motives for drinking, drinking contexts, and other substance use) and time-varying developmental predictors (e.g., college attendance, employment, living with parents) of gender-specific rates of high-intensity drinking (8+/10+ drinks for women/men), compared to binge (4-7 for women, 5-9 for men) or moderate (1-3 for women, 1-4 for men) drinking occasions;
  2. Whether acute consequences (e.g., blackouts, injury, aggressive behavior, sexual risk, and negative interpersonal consequences) associated with high-intensity (compared to moderate and binge) drinking differ across days and based on developmental and sociodemographic characteristics; and
  3. Longer- term patterns of alcohol-related consequences (ages 18-22) and whether they differ by gender and social roles including educational experiences (e.g., 2-year and 4-year college).

The project will be the first national study of both college attenders and non-attenders to identify occasion-level predictors and occasion-level consequences of specific occasions of binge and high-intensity drinking. This will provide critical information for health promotion and intervention efforts targeting high-risk alcohol behaviors among young adults.


Megan E Patrick

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