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Close Friends’ Drinking and Personal Income as Mediators of Extreme Drinking: A Prospective Investigation

The transition out of high school may put young adults at a higher risk of drinking. The current study attempts to look at the different aspects of a post-high school environment and how they may predict binge drinking. Along with this, they tested friends’ drinking and personal incomes as potential mediators in binge drinking.

Researchers used data from the NEXT Generation Health Study which was a 7-year study of adolescents in the United States. Participants were from 22 states and there was over 2,000 participants for each wave of data collection. This study used data from Wave 4 to Wave 7 which asked about post-high school environment, close friends’ drinking, personal income, extreme binge drinking, and demographics. The results showed that around 46% of participants were at a university at one point during their first 2 years after high school with around 30% attending a technical school or community college. Over half of young adults lived outside of their parent’s home during the first 2 years after high school.

The data showed that university attendance along with living on campus was associated with increased drinking 4 years after high school (including binge drinking). It was found that working anywhere from 1 to above 30 hours a week was associated with increased risk of some form of drinking or binge drinking. Dropping out of school was also found to be associated with binge drinking. Close friends’ drinking and personal income were found to mediate extreme binge drinking at 4 years after high school. Overall, living on campus and working more than 30 hours at week were found to put student at the most risk for binge drinking. This information is an important finding as some may suspect that if a student is spending more time working, they have less time to participate in dangerous drinking. These results should be considered when providing targeted education to college students.

Take Away: With the transition out of high school putting young adults at higher risk of drinking, the current study looks at how different aspects of this environment my predict binge drinking. Data was used from Wave 4 to 7 from the NEXT Generation Health Study. The results showed close friends’ drinking and personal income were found to mediate extreme binge drinking and overall, living on campus and working more than 30 hours a week put students at the most risk for binge drinking. These results should be considered when providing targeted education to college students.

Luk, J. W., Haynie, D. L., Vaca, F. E., Li, K., Hingson, R., & Simons-Morton, B. G. (2019). Close Friends’ Drinking and Personal Income as Mediators of Extreme Drinking: A Prospective Investigation. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 80(6), 669–678. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2019.80.669

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