Drinking Patterns of College- and Non-College-Attending Young Adults: Is High-Intensity Drinking Only a College Phenomenon?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: Young adults report the heaviest drinking of any age group, and many are at risk for experiencing an alcohol use disorder. Most research investigating young adult drinking has focused on single indicators of use. Using multiple dimensions of consumption, such as federal guidelines for daily/weekly drinking and engagement in drinking at twice the binge threshold (“high-intensity drinking”) to characterize drinking behavior could illuminate drinking patterns linked with harms. Objectives: We used a person-centered approach to examine latent classes of drinkers from a national sample of young adults. Further, we compared classes on college status. Methods: We used 2012–2013 data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC)-III. We included past-year drinkers aged 18–22 years (n = 2213). Latent classes were estimated based on drinking frequency, daily/weekly drinking, frequency of heavy episodic drinking (4+/5+ drinks for women/men), frequency of high-intensity drinking (8+/10+ drinks), and intoxication frequency. Results: Five latent classes were identified: Occasional, Light Drinkers (30%), Regular Drinkers (6%), Infrequent Drinkers with Occasional Binging (10%), Frequent Drinkers with Occasional Binging (22%), and High-Intensity Drinkers (32%). Although membership in the two riskiest classes were more common among college-attenders, odds of being a High-Intensity Drinker relative to the second riskiest class was not significantly different for college- and non-college-attending young adults. Conclusions/Importance: As high-intensity drinking does not appear to be a drinking pattern unique to college-attenders and non-college-attenders are less likely to mature out of heavy drinking patterns, intervention efforts are needed for this at-risk age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2157-2164
Number of pages8
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 10 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Drinking Patterns of College- and Non-College-Attending Young Adults: Is High-Intensity Drinking Only a College Phenomenon?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this