Is reducing drinking always the answer to reducing consequences in first-year college students?

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21 Scopus citations


Objective: Pre-college drinking has been shown to be a predictor of risky drinking and harmful outcomes in college. By contrast, less is known about how pre-college alcohol consequences influence subsequent consequences during the freshman year. The present study examined pre-college drinking and consequences in relationship to consequences experienced during the freshman year to better understand alcohol-related problems in this population. Method: Incoming freshmen (N = 340, 58% female) were randomly selected and completed measures of drinking quantity, alcohol-related consequences, and drinking style behaviors at pre-college baseline and at 10-month follow-up. Results: Pre-college consequences demonstrated a unique relationship with consequences at 10-month follow-up controlling for both pre-college and freshman-year alcohol consumption. Furthermore, pre-college consequences moderated the relationship between pre-college drinking and consequences at 10-month follow-up. For individuals who reported above-average pre-college consequences, no differences in 10-month follow-up consequences were observed across different levels of drinking. Finally, drinking style significantly mediated the relationship between the interaction between pre-college drinking and consequences and consequences at follow-up. Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the need to identify students who are at an increased risk of experiencing alcohol-related problems during their freshman year based on their history of consequences before college. Interventions aimed at these students may benefit from examining the usefulness of increasing protective behaviors as a method to reduce consequences in addition to reducing drinking quantity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-246
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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