Patterns of high-intensity drinking among young adults in the United States: A repeated measures latent class analysis

Addict Behav. 2017 Nov;74:134-139. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.06.004. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Abstract

Objective: Using a national sample of young adults, this study identified latent classes of alcohol use including high-intensity drinking (10+ drinks) from ages 18 to 25/26, and explored associations between time-invariant covariates measured at age 18 and class membership.

Method: Longitudinal data from the national Monitoring the Future study were available for 1078 individuals (51% female) first surveyed as 12th grade students in 2005-2008, and followed through modal age 25/26. Repeated measures latent class analysis was used to identify latent classes based on self-reported alcohol use: no past 30-day drinking, 1-9 drinks per occasion in the past 2weeks, and 10+ drinks per occasion.

Results: Four latent classes of alcohol use from ages 18 to 25/26 were identified: (1) Non-Drinkers (21%); (2) Legal Non-High-Intensity Drinkers (23%); (3) Persistent Non-High-Intensity Drinkers (40%); and (4) High-Intensity Drinkers (16%). Membership in the High-Intensity Drinkers class was characterized by higher than average probabilities of high-intensity drinking at all ages, with the probability of high-intensity drinking increasing between ages 18 and 21/22. Both gender and race/ethnicity significantly differentiated class membership, whereas neither parental education (a proxy for socioeconomic status) nor college plans at 12th grade showed significant associations.

Conclusions: More than one in seven individuals who were seniors in high school experienced a long-term pattern of high-intensity drinking lasting into middle young adulthood. Young adult high-intensity drinking is often preceded by high-intensity drinking in high school, suggesting the importance of screening and prevention for high-intensity drinking during adolescence.

Keywords: Alcohol; High-intensity drinking; Latent class analysis; Longitudinal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Research Design
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult