Variation in the Drinking Trajectories of Freshman College Students

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Recently, Del Boca, Darkes, Greenbaum, and Goldman (2004) examined temporal variations in drinking during the freshmen college year and the relationship of several risk factors to these variations. Here, using the same data, we investigate whether a single growth curve adequately characterizes the variability in individual drinking trajectories. Latent growth mixture modeling identified five drinking trajectory classes: Light-Stable, Light-Stable + High Holiday, MediumIncreasing, High-Decreasing, and Heavy-Stable. In multivariate predictor analyses, gender (i.e., more females) and lower alcohol expectancies distinguished the Light-Stable from other trajectories; only expectancies differentiated the High-Decreasing from the Heavy-Stable and Medium-Increasing classes. These findings move us closer to identification of individuals at risk for developing problematic trajectories and to development of interventions tailored to specific drinker classes.

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Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, v. 73, p. 229-238