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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009 Jul 1;103(1-2):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.12.017. Epub 2009 May 6.

Longitudinal patterns of binge drinking among first year college students with a history of tobacco use.

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  • 1Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.



Underage heavy episodic drinking is a major contributor to alcohol-related morbidity/mortality. Reports indicate underage binge drinking among college students is widespread and has remained stable over the past decade. This study describes individual characteristics and calendar-specific events associated with binge drinking episodes over the course of freshman college academic year (2002-2003).


Students (N=827, age 18 years), with a prior history of tobacco use, attending a large Midwest university completed weekly web-based surveys on the number of drinks consumed for each of the past 7 days over the duration of 35 consecutive weeks (avg. number of weeks reported 16.0+/-10.5).


Average prevalence of binge episodes across the academic year was 17.2+/-14.4%, 23.6+/-8.3%, and 66.3+/-11.2% for weekdays, Thursdays, and weekend days, respectively. Two-level random effects logit survival models for repeated events indicated the prevalence of weekday and Thursday binge drinking was associated with specific university/community events (Local festival odds ratio [OR] 6.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.34-8.36), holidays (New Year's Eve OR 18.48, CI 12.83-26.63), and academic breaks (Spring Break OR 6.45, CI 4.57-9.08). Expected associations of younger age of first heavy drinking, past 12-month drinking, and experiencing negative consequences from heavy drinking were observed.


Although individual characteristics were related to engaging in a binge episode, binge episodes were strongly associated with time-specific calendar events. Effective interventions to prevent immediate and long-term health consequences associated with binge drinking should consider environmental and institutional policy-level controls to reduce high levels of binge drinking on college campuses connected with holidays and university/community events.

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