12th-grade binge drinking predicts risky driving in early adulthood
Binge drinking during senior year in high school is a predictor of risky alcohol-related behaviors in early adulthood — like driving while impaired or riding with an impaired driver — according to a study published in Pediatrics.
“Clinicians who care for this population of youth should incorporate screening measures and related interventions to identify youth with alcohol use disorders,” Federico E. Vaca, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine affiliated with the Child Study Center at Yale School of Medicine, told Healio. “Further, they should inquire of their young patients about binge drinking, blackouts, driving while impaired (DWI) and riding with an impaired driver (RWI). The clinician should keep the context of driving in mind for their young patients.”
Vaca and colleagues examined data from 2,785 high schoolers who participated in the NEXT Generation Health Study — a 7-year, nationally representative U.S. longitudinal assessment of adolescents and young adults beginning at grade 10. The study included seven waves of data, following participants up to 4 years after high school, with waves one to three accounting for early adulthood and waves four to seven accounting for early adulthood.
According to the researchers, the prevalence of binge drinking was 27.2%, 23.8% and 26.8% among waves one, two and three, respectively. They reported that 12th-grade binge drinking was associated with a higher likelihood of DWI, RWI, blackouts and risky driving in early adulthood and extreme binge drinking in wave 7. Adolescents who binged during their senior year were also 3 times more likely to DWI, RWI and black out.
Major limitations of the study included changing sample sizes across different waves and that extreme binge drinking data were recorded during only one wave. Vaca is currently conducting additional research to examine life trajectories of adolescents who DWI and RWI to examine how their behaviors may impact their “future health, education and employment” after high school, he said.
Vaca also noted that RWI is about 2 times more common than DWI among teens, and that parents and clinicians should “encourage pre-event and pre-outing planning with regard to transportation.”
“Parents continue to exert meaningful protective effects on their teens and emerging adults even several years after their teen has left high school,” Vaca said. “As a result, parents should avoid taking a permissive parenting route with their older teens and instead continue to be intentional about their relationships with their teens, staying connected and aware about how their teen spends their free time and who they spend it with, and for parents to continue to express their own reservations or dislikes about their older teen or emerging adult using alcohol.” – by Eamon Dreisbach
Disclosure: Vaca reports no relevant financial disclosures.