Research & Resources

Trajectories of Early Alcohol Use Milestones

In this study, researchers analyzed online surveys from 1,023 students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades completed through the end of high school. Participants reported on alcohol experiences including the first sip, full drink, consumption of more than three drinks/occasion (heavy drinking), being drunk, and experiencing acute consequences. Milestones around age and speed of progression (duration) were calculated based on these alcohol experiences. Overall, milestones followed the expected ordering, with the exception of heavy drinking and being drunk. An earlier age of milestone attainment was associated with an increased likelihood of attaining each of the milestones. Girls were more likely to attain all milestones than boys, but there was no sex difference in the age of attainment. Hispanic youth reported earlier ages of initiation than white non-Hispanic youth, but the likelihood of attainment did not vary by race/ethnicity. Rapid progression was observed in females but did not vary by race/ethnicity.

This paper, “Trajectories of early alcohol use milestones: Interrelations among initiation and progression,” was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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