A mixture model of discontinuous development in heavy drinking from ages 18 to 30: The role of college enrollment

Stephanie T. Lanza, Linda M. Collins

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110 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to illustrate the use of latent class analysis to examine change in behavior over time. Patterns of heavy drinking from ages 18 to 30 were explored in a national sample; the relationship between college enrollment and pathways of heavy drinking, particularly those leading to adult heavy drinking, was explored. Method: Latent class analysis for repeated measures is used to estimate common pathways through a stage-sequential process. Common patterns of development in a categorical variable (presence or absence of heavy drinking) are estimated and college enrollment is a grouping variable. Data were from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (N = 1,265). Results: Eight patterns of heavy drinking were identified: no heavy drinking (53.7%); young adulthood only (3.7%); young adulthood and adulthood (3.7%); college age only (2.6%); college age, young adulthood, and adulthood (8.7%); high school and college age (4.4%); high school, college age, and young adulthood (6.3%); and persistent heavy drinking (16.9%). Conclusions: We found no evidence that prevalence of heavy drinking for those enrolled in college exceeds the prevalence for those not enrolled at any of the four developmental periods studied. In fact, there is some evidence that being enrolled in college appears to be a protective factor for young adult and adult heavy drinking. College-enrolled individuals more often show a pattern characterized by heavy drinking during college ages only, with no heavy drinking prior to and after the college years, whereas nonenrolled individuals not drinking heavily during high school or college ages are at increased risk for adult heavy drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-561
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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