Page last updated: February 18, 2014

Determinants of sustained binge drinking in young adults

Research has identified the predictors of sustained binge drinking behaviours in young adulthood. Binge drinking occurs frequently among young adults, however previously, little was known about which drinkers are most likely to continue to binge later into adulthood.

609 Study participants were taken from the Nicotine Dependence in Teens (NDIT) cohort. They completed self-report questionnaires in 20 survey cycles (SCs) during secondary school between 1999 and 2005, and in 2 postsecondary school SCs in 2007 to 2008; and 2011 to 2012 (average age = 24 years). Participants reporting past-year binge drinking in both SCs 21 and 22 were categorised as sustainers (n = 517).

Researchers used multivariable logistic regression, investigating 25 potential predictors of sustained binge drinking, binge-drinking frequency, and change in frequency over time among sustainers.

Compared with stoppers, sustainers (85% of participants) were more likely to be younger, male, and to have no college/university education. Sustainers began drinking alcohol and binge drinking earlier, drank at least monthly during more secondary school grades, binged more frequently at age 20, and scored higher on impulsivity and novelty seeking in adolescence. Among sustainers, frequent binge drinkers were more likely to be male, to be nonstudents, to score higher on novelty seeking, and to have reported more depressive symptoms in adolescence. Sustainers who decelerated their binge frequency between SCs 21 and 22 were more likely to be female, to have achieved a higher level of education, and to report more depressive symptoms in SC 21.

The authors conclude that the determinants of sustained binge drinking are similar to predictors of binge drinking reported in the literature. Early identification of, and intervention with, youth who are impulsive, inclined toward novelty seeking, and who report higher levels of early sub clinical depressive symptoms might forestall their involvement in risky alcohol use.

Source: Determinants of Sustained Binge Drinking in Young Adults. Robert J. Wellman, Gisèle A. Contreras, Erika N. Dugas, Erin K. O’Loughlin, Jennifer L. O’Loughlin. Alc Clin Exp. Article first published online: 11 Feb 2014.

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