Determinants of sustained binge drinking in young adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Age Factors; Binge Drinking; Child; Educational Status; Female; Humans; Male; Prospective Studies; Questionnaires; Sex Factors; Young Adult


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


BACKGROUND: Binge drinking occurs frequently among young adults, posing risks to health and safety. Little is known, however, about which drinkers continue to binge later into adulthood. We sought to identify predictors of sustained binge drinking behaviors in young adulthood.

METHODS: Participants from the Nicotine Dependence in Teens (NDIT) cohort (n = 609, 53% female) completed self-report questionnaires in 20 survey cycles (SCs) during secondary school between 1999 and 2005, and in 2 postsecondary school SCs in 2007 to 2008 (SC 21; Mage = 20 years) and 2011 to 2012 (SC 22; Mage = 24 years). Participants reporting past-year binge drinking in both SCs 21 and 22 were categorized as sustainers (n = 517). Using multivariable logistic regression, we investigated 25 potential predictors of sustained binge drinking, binge-drinking frequency, and change in frequency over time among sustainers.

RESULTS: Compared with stoppers, sustainers (85% of participants) were more likely to be younger, male, and to have no college/university education. Sustainers began drinking alcohol and binge drinking earlier, drank at least monthly during more secondary school grades, binged more frequently at age 20, and scored higher on impulsivity and novelty seeking in adolescence. Among sustainers, frequent binge drinkers were more likely to be male, to be nonstudents, to score higher on novelty seeking, and to have reported more depressive symptoms in adolescence. Sustainers who decelerated their binge frequency between SCs 21 and 22 were more likely to be female, to have achieved a higher level of education, and to report more depressive symptoms in SC 21.

CONCLUSIONS: The determinants of sustained binge drinking are similar to predictors of binge drinking reported in the literature. Early identification of, and intervention with, youth who are impulsive, inclined toward novelty seeking, and who report higher levels of early sub clinical depressive symptoms might forestall their involvement in risky alcohol use.


Alcohol, Binge Drinking, Depression, Young Adult

DOI of Published Version



Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 May;38(5):1409-15. doi: 10.1111/acer.12365. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed