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Monday, January 7, 2013

Patterns of Alcohol Use and Related Consequences in Non-College-Attending Emerging Adults

Among emerging adults, those who do not attain postsecondary education are at highest risk for experiencing long-term problems related to alcohol use, including alcohol dependence. The purpose of the current study was to identify latent classes of alcohol users among non-college-attending youth and examine correlates of class membership. 

Screening criteria were used to select emerging adults between ages 18 and 22 years with no postsecondary education (N = 264) from a prerecruited probability-based Web panel. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify common patterns of alcohol use. Grouping variables and demographic variables were added to the LCA model, and rates of alcohol-related consequences across the LCA classes were compared. 

Four classes of drinking patterns were identified: (a) current nondrinkers (34%), (b) weekend light drinkers (38%), (c) weekend risky drinkers (23%), and (d) daily drinkers (5%). Class membership was associated with early onset of alcohol use (age 14 or younger), marital status, employment status, and urban residency (area populated by 50,000 or more people). The number of latent classes did not differ across sex and legal drinking age status, although proportions of subjects within classes varied by age. Weekend risky drinkers were most likely to report sickness and feelings of guilt because of drinking, whereas daily drinkers were most likely to report getting into fights, driving a car after drinking, and missing work. 

Similar to college samples of emerging adults, most of this noncollege sample belonged to latent classes defined by rare or moderate alcohol use. Nevertheless, nearly a quarter of the sample reported high-risk drinking behaviors, and a small number reported drinking alcohol on a daily basis. Both of these classes were at elevated risk for experiencing a number of alcohol-related consequences.

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