Alcohol use in high school: predicting students' alcohol use and alcohol problems in four-year colleges

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2001 Nov;27(4):775-93. doi: 10.1081/ada-100107668.


This research examined the effect of students' drinking behaviors in high school on their alcohol use and alcohol problems in college. Five colleges in New York State were randomly selected for the study. The telephone interview method was employed to survey college students during the spring semester of 1998. Within each participating college, students were randomly selected through the use of complete student telephone directories provided by the college administration. A total of 813 students were interviewed. Alcohol problems were measured with items from DSM-IV. Results indicate that both frequency and quantity of alcohol use in high school significantly affect students' alcohol consumption in college. Furthermore, the impact of alcohol use in high school on alcohol problems in college tends to be composed of a moderate direct effect and a relatively strong indirect effect via its impact on current alcohol consumption in college. Prevention efforts for drinking in college may need to start in high school to reduce or delay alcohol use by high school students. Additional assessment services and more readily available treatment services may be required to address potential alcohol problems among college students. Future research should examine the effect and longevity of students' alcohol problem symptoms after they graduate from college.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Schools
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Universities