Background: Many studies of the consequences of binge drinking take a variable-centered approach that may mask developmentally different trajectories. Recent studies have reported qualitatively different binge drinking trajectories in young adulthood. However, analyses of developmental trajectories of binge drinking have not been examined for an important period of drinking development: adolescence. The purpose of this study was to examine young adult outcomes of adolescent binge drinking using an approach that combines person-centered and variable-centered methods.
Methods: Data were from the Seattle Social Development Project, an ethnically diverse, gender balanced sample (n = 808) followed prospectively from age 10 to age 21. Semiparametric group-based modeling was used to determine groups of binge drinking trajectories in adolescence. Logistic regression was used to examine how well the trajectory groups predicted young adult outcomes after demographics, childhood measures, and adolescent drug use were considered.
Results: Four distinct trajectories of binge drinking during adolescence were identified: Early Highs, Increasers, Late Onsetters, and Nonbingers. These trajectories significantly predicted positive and negative outcomes in adulthood after controlling for demographic characteristics, early proxy measures of the outcome, and adolescent drug use.
Conclusions: This integrated person- and variable-centered approach provides more information about the effects of specific patterns of binge drinking than studies that employ variable-centered methods alone.