A multidimensional developmental model of alcohol use during emerging adulthood

Karen J. Auerbach, Linda M. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Longitudinal analyses identified unique multidimensional classes of alcohol use and examined individuals' movement among these classes during emerging adulthood. Method: Latent transition analysis was used to identify a developmental model of alcohol use incorporating four aspects of use: use in the past year, frequency of use, quantity of use, and heavy episodic drinking. Participants were drawn from the Reducing Risk in Young Adult Transitions study (N = 1,143). Participants' alcohol use was assessed at mean ages of 18.5, 20.5, and 22.5 years. Results: Through exploratory analysis, a five-class developmental model was identified as the best description of participants' alcohol use between ages 18.5 and 22.5 years. This model consisted of five multidimensional alcohol-use latent variables: no use, occasional low use, occasional high use, frequent high use, and frequent high use with heavy episodic drinking. Analyses provided information regarding the proportion of participants in each latent class in the model at each measurement occasion and patterns of participants' movement among latent classes during the observed age period. Conclusions: Although alcohol use increased overall for study participants between ages 18.5 and 22.5, participants in lower-level alcohol-use latent classes were more likely to remain in low-level latent classes over time, and participants in moderate- and high-level latent classes were more likely to be in the frequent high use with heavy episodic drinking latent class over time. Implications for the prevention of heavy episodic drinking are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)917-925
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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