Day drinking among college students and its association with risky substance use behaviors

Brian H. Calhoun, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Day drinking, or drinking during the daytime, is a term used colloquially in the media and among college students based on anecdotal evidence. Drinking at tailgate parties, generally thought to be a type of day drinking, tends to be particularly heavy and to achieve levels comparable to drinking on holidays and special occasions. The objective of this study was to assess how many and how often students day drink and whether day drinking days (i.e., days drinking began before 4:00 p.m.) were associated with heavy drinking, legal intoxication, negative alcohol-related consequences, and three risky substance use behaviors. Methods: We conducted a longitudinal daily diary study of college students who were followed for their first seven semesters of college. The analytic sample includes 7,633 drinking days nested with 619 student drinkers. We used logistic and Poisson multilevel models to test associations between day drinking days and substance use outcomes and negative consequences. Results: Approximately 50% of drinkers drank durinng the day at least once, and day drinking occurred on 9% of drinking days. Greek organization participants reported significantly more day drinking days than non-participants. Day drinking days were characterized by heavy drinking as evidenced by strong, positive associations between day drinking and drinking to heavy episodic drinking (HED) and high-intensity drinking (HID) thresholds on a given day. In contrast, students were less likely to reach legal intoxication and experienced fewer negative alcohol-related consequences on day drinking days than days on which drinking began in the evening or nighttime. Students who reported day drinking more often throughout the study also reported having more days of drinking at the HED and HID thresholds and playing drinking games and mixed alcohol with energy drinks more frequently. Conclusions: Day drinking was common among this sample of college students. Findings suggest that day drinking days may be characterized by heavy drinking and may be a behavior most typically engaged in by heavy drinkers, including members of Greek organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2546-2559
Number of pages14
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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