Reasons for high-intensity drinking change from age 18 to 26

What motivates young adults to have 10+ drinks in a row and do their reasons change over time?


Megan Patrick and colleagues recently found one reason that increased from age 18 to 26 in its association with 10+ drinking: Boredom. Two reasons decreased in association with 10+ drinking: Anger or frustration, and having a good time. Four reasons stayed the same across the 8-year span: drinking to get away from problems, to get high, to relax, and to sleep. Drinking because it tastes good had a weak association with high-intensity drinking.


The researchers also explored whether reasons were different for having 10+ drinks versus 5-9 drinks in a row. All reasons except for two were more strongly associated with 10+ drinking. The two exceptions were drinking to have a good time and to relax.


So, reasons for high-intensity drinking may be different from reasons for other drinking, and reasons for high-intensity drinking may change over the course of young adulthood. The results may help intervention programs focus on reasons for high-intensity alcohol use when these are developmentally most salient.


The study was based on self-report of high-intensity drinking (10+ drinks in a row at least once in the past 2 weeks) in the national Monitoring the Future study from 2005 to 2014 for those aged 18–26 (N = 2,664 for all drinkers and 1,377 for binge [5+] drinkers).


The article Age-Related Changes in Associations Between Reasons for Alcohol Use and High-Intensity Drinking Across Young Adulthood was published in the July 2017 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.