Exploring heavy drinking patterns among black and white young adults

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2014 Sep;75(5):839-49. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2014.75.839.



Objective: This investigation examined patterns of heavy drinking among Black and White young adults from a person-centered perspective and linked family and individual factors in adolescence to young adult drinking patterns.

Method: The analysis focuses on 331 10th-grade students (168 Whites, 163 Blacks; 51% males) who were followed into young adulthood (ages 20 and 22). Cluster analyses using heavy episodic drinking, drunkenness, and alcohol problems in young adulthood resulted in groups of drinkers with different patterns. Groups were examined across and within race. Associations between young adult drinking groups and adolescent family and individual factors were tested.

Results: Groups followed well-established race differences, with Whites clustering into frequent drinking groups more than Blacks, and Blacks clustering into non-heavy drinking groups more than Whites. Further, Black heavy drinkers reported fewer alcohol problems than White counterparts. Parental monitoring, consistent discipline, ethnic identity, and delinquency were associated with adult heavy episodic drinking groups for both races. Monitoring and delinquency, along with parental norms, were associated with drunkenness groups for both races. However, race differences were observed for drunkenness clusters such that attachment was predictive for White clusters, and parental guidelines and discipline were predictive for Black clusters.

Conclusions: Large race differences in heavy drinking at young adulthood were confirmed. Family dynamics in 10th grade were identified as important for the development of different drinking patterns in the early 20s, when many individuals have left home, which suggests a key target for substance use prevention programs. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 75, 839-849, 2014).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / economics
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / economics
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / ethnology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology
  • Black People / ethnology*
  • Black People / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People / ethnology*
  • White People / psychology
  • Young Adult