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Identifying Changes in Heavy Drinking Rates among Young Adults

Highlights

Young women toasting, standing in front of a mural

A 2017 study from the National Alcohol Research Center found that when comparing heavy drinking trajectories between two cohorts, trajectories for Hispanic and White men and women have changed over time. However, Hispanic and White women in the younger cohort saw the greatest increase in heavy drinking compared to other groups.

A 2017 study from the National Alcohol Research Center (housed at PHI’s Alcohol Research Group) found that when comparing heavy drinking trajectories between two age cohorts, trajectories for Hispanic and White men and women changed over time. However, Hispanic and White women in the younger cohort saw the greatest increase in heavy drinking compared to other groups.

Results also showed that the younger cohort’s heavy drinking peaked in the mid-twenties compared to the older cohort who peaked in their late teens or late twenties. However, the peak frequency remained the same.

“What we found suggests that women’s drinking has changed significantly compared to the older cohort of women, and a narrowing gap between young men’s and women’s drinking. It also suggests that women think differently about drinking and are behaving differently than their older counterparts. These changes could result in greater health problems for women over time if this drinking pattern persists or gets worse.” – Edwina Williams, ARG Research Associate and lead study author

The study used data from the 1979 and 1997 cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to model heavy drinking frequency from ages 17-31. It is the first known study to look at racial/ethnic-gender differences in heavy drinking trajectories between two cohorts.

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