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Psychol Addict Behav. 2008 Mar;22(1):68-77. doi: 10.1037/0893-164X.22.1.68.

Heavy episodic drinking: determining the predictive utility of five or more drinks.

Author information

  • Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA. Kristina_Jackson@brown.edu

Abstract

Although the heavy episodic drinking (HED) measure of 5+ drinks (sometimes 4+ for women) is used extensively, there is no empirical basis for the designation of 5 drinks as the threshold (vs. another threshold that may perform equally). The present study sought to determine the threshold for HED that maximally predicts proximal and distal adverse-drinking-related outcomes. Participants included 115 young adults (57% female; 96% Caucasian) who partook in an 8-week Internet survey that assessed daily drinking as well as next-day hangover; 10 months later, adverse outcomes (problem drinking, alcohol-related problems, maximum number of drinks, and drug use) were surveyed. Thresholds were computed, with a range from 1+ drinks to 15+ drinks, and outcomes were predicted from each threshold. Findings for hangover measures showed relatively good convergence across multiple indicators, with greatest prediction occurring at a threshold of 10+ drinks per occasion. Different thresholds were observed for long-term outcomes, with higher thresholds indicative of outcomes with greater severity. Although alternatives to HED, such as subjective effects and blood alcohol concentration, can indicate risky drinking, a threshold measure of HED may have advantages in terms of prevention and of intervention efforts.

PMID:
18298232
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2898719
Free PMC Article

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