Risky drinking: Trends, risks, and consequences from adolescence to older adulthood

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Diggs, Olivia
Major Professor
Neppl, Tricia
Committee Member
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The purpose of this dissertation is to identify trends, risks, and consequences of risky drinking across the lifespan in a rural White sample of adolescents and their parents. The dissertation includes two studies. The first seeks to explore risky drinking trajectories over two generations: Generation 1 (G1) mothers and fathers and Generation 2 (G2) offspring. The second paper aims to understand how patterns of binge drinking in emerging adulthood, are predicted by earlier adolescent parent, peer, and individual factors, as well as how these trajectories of risky drinking impact aspects of health (mental, physical, and social behaviors) in adulthood. The first study found that, in general, risky drinking increases from ages 15 to 23 and then decreases from ages 25 to 41 (G2s), where it remains low and stable into the late 60s (G1s). G2s who were parents by age 41 showed more risky drinking in the adolescent and early emerging adult years than those who were not a parent by age 41. For both generations, levels in their early 40s were similar. G2 fathers had higher levels than G2 mothers in the early 40s. A vulnerable age for increased levels of heavy drinking showed to be among G1 fathers (aged 40s to early 50s) of daughters aged 16, 18, and 25, of which fathers showed higher levels of heavy drinking than fathers of sons who were the same age. The second study identified four patterns of binge drinking in emerging adulthood (ages 18 to 29): Abstainers/Minimal (72%), Social (15%), Social Inverse (10.7%), and Increasing (2.3%). Early adolescent drinking was predictive for membership in the Social Inverse pattern of binge drinking, while there was a lower risk of earlier father drunkenness and close peer pressure in adolescence among the Abstainers/Minimal binge drinkers when compared to the Social group of drinkers. The Abstaining/Minimal group was not at risk for later mental health, physical health, or alcohol problems. All other classes showed evidence of an increased risk for alcohol problems in adulthood. Finally, those who increased their binge drinking throughout emerging adulthood were at the highest risk for adverse mental, physical, and social consequences as a result of their alcohol use. Findings from these two papers shed light on the intergenerational transmission of risky alcohol use, as well as how specific trajectories of binge drinking in emerging adulthood are impacted by earlier adolescent risk factors, and how these patterns of binge drinking in emerging adulthood impact mental, physical, and social consequences in adulthood. Implications for the promotion of health and well-being throughout emerging adulthood are critical for later mental, physical, and social health behaviors.
Social research, binge drinking, emerging adulthood, intergenerational transmission, risky drinking