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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Associations Between Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Negative Consequences Among Black and White College Men and Women

The gender gap in alcohol use has been narrowing among young adults, while race differences in alcohol problems change throughout the life course, with Whites experiencing more problems before middle adulthood and Blacks experiencing more after. Yet, there is a paucity of research on the intricate relationship among gender, race, alcohol use, and alcohol problems in emerging adults. The present study addressed this gap in the literature.

The sample included White (n = 14,772) and Black (n = 458) college students from multiple colleges across the United States (59% female; 51% freshmen; mean age = 20 years).

With alcohol use levels adjusted for, women were more likely to report consequences related to damage to self and dependence-like symptoms than men. There were no significant race differences in either the type or the number of alcohol problems. Further, there was no Race × Alcohol Use interaction in relation to alcohol problems. We found a statistically significant interaction between gender and alcohol use in predicting alcohol problems, suggesting that, at higher levels of drinking, the risk for women to experience alcohol problems was significantly greater than that for men.

The reverse race gap in alcohol use and problems may not surface until young adulthood or may not be relevant for those who attend college. College interventions should help both Black and White students reduce problems associated with drinking and focus on limiting harm among female students.

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