Relationships between drinking onset, alcohol use intensity, and nighttime risk behaviors in a college bar district

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2009;35(6):421-8. doi: 10.3109/00952990903414501.


Objective: To identify antecedents of risk behavior events in college bar patrons.

Methods: In this nighttime field study, self-report data and alcohol intoxication readings were collected from patrons immediately upon exiting bars (n = 618).

Results: Multilevel structural equation modeling revealed positive associations between age of drinking onset and both alcohol use intensity in the past year and recent bar-going frequency. In turn, alcohol use intensity in the past year was positively associated with bar-going frequency and intoxication at bar exit. An association between drinking onset and bar-going frequency was mediated by alcohol use intensity in the past year.

Conclusions: Discernable paths from age of drinking onset to monthly bar-going frequency and intoxication level after leaving a bar can be identified. The results highlight the critical role of drinking onset in development of college student alcohol abuse. Research is needed to determine whether college bars are environmental pathogens mediating between genetic risk factors and patron risk behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Social Environment
  • Time Factors
  • Universities
  • Young Adult