U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Early Alcohol Initiation Increases Risk Related to Drinking Among College Students

NCJ Number
Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 125-141
Joseph W. LaBrie; Andrea Rodrigues; Jason Schiffman; Summer Tawalbeh
Date Published
17 pages
This study examined the influence of age at first alcohol use on current alcohol use and alcohol-related problems in a diverse sample of college students.
The study found that alcohol use before age 15 was more strongly associated with frequent binge drinking in college and positive alcohol perceptions compared with those who began alcohol use after age 15. Also, those who began alcohol use before age 15 were more likely to have used marijuana in the past month than those who began alcohol use between ages 15 and 17 or at ages 18 or older. There were no significant gender differences related to age of first alcohol use and subsequent drug-use patterns. A disproportionate percentage of Whites were in the early initiation group compared to the middle or late initiation groups. Whites also tended to drink more days and consume more drinks per drinking occasion than other ethnic groups, and they endorsed stronger beliefs and reasons for drinking associated with increased alcohol-related risk. College students (n=243; females=160 and males=83) participated in the study. Participants' ethnicity reflected the diversity of the campus student body: 26 percent Caucasian, 40 percent Asian, 24 percent Hispanic, 2 percent African-American, and 8 percent mixed. Participants completed an instrument package that measured alcohol use; behavioral effects of alcohol use; reasons for drinking; beliefs about peer drinking; and drug use, including age at first use. 2 tables and 34 references