INDIANAPOLIS – A new survey analyzed by researchers at IUPUI shows binge drinking among young adults ages 18 to 25 in 10 Indiana counties increased after they turned 21, rather than tapering off, as had been the case in the past.
Those findings mirror national statistics showing that increased binge drinking among young adults now extends beyond the peak that was associated with the legal drinking age.
The findings are troubling because binge drinking is the most common, costly and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Indiana Partnerships for Success Young Adult Survey was administered to more than 1,100 young adults in Cass, Clark, Floyd, Knox, Lake, Madison, Marion, Porter, Scott and Vanderburgh counties. Those counties were surveyed because the state has identified them as having a high prevalence or high risk of either underage drinking or prescription drug misuse among young adults.
The Center for Community Health Engagement and Equity Research at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI developed the questions for the survey and analyzed the responses.
Marion S. Greene, a visiting research assistant professor with the Fairbanks School of Public Health, said it had been the case that binge drinking increased among young adults until the ages of 21 or 22 and then slowly decreased, a development called “aging out.”
Description of the following video:
[Words appear: IUPUI presents]
[Words appear: A new survey analyzed by researchers at IUPUI…]
[Video: An animated video. Several white circles pop up on a red background. In the circles are icons that represent research and education including a lightbulb, a graduation cap, a notepad and pencil, and an outline of a human head highlighting a brain.]
[Words appear: …shows binge drinking is on the rise among young adults ages 18 to 25.]
[Video: Three red arrows, pointing up, appear on screen and grow to a larger size.]
[Words appear: The survey was administered to more than 1,100 young adults in 10 Indiana counties.]
[Video: A hand holding a pen looks as if it is writing the text on the screen. An outline of Indiana pops in on the right side of the screen. Text is inside the Indiana icon.]
[Words appear: In the past, binge drinking behavior tended to taper off after age 21.]
[Video: A red outline of a person’s head appears, highlighting the brain.]
[Words appear: Young adults are now delaying the age at which they marry and have children.]
[Video: A outline of a bride and groom, along with a baby carriage.]
[Words appear: There are several reasons for that, including increasing college debt and inconsistent income.]
[Video: A graduation cap icon and a bag-of-money icon.]
[Words appear: Young adults ages 22 to 25 who were living with a spouse were…]
[Video: A diamond ring icon]
[Words appear: 70 percent less likely to engage in binge drinking than their peers who were single.]
[Words appear: IUPUI]
[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]
[Words appear: iu.edu]
[END OF TRANSCRIPT]
After adjusting for other factors, 18-to-21-year-olds enrolled in college were 77 percent more likely to binge drink than those not enrolled.
“What we found in the survey is that binge drinking for those 22 to 25 years old continued on, rather than tapering off,” she said. “It’s taking longer for people to mature, to really change their behaviors.”
Changing social norms, including more young adults attending college and people delaying the age at which they marry and start families, may be contributing to that shift, Greene said. Young people often delay marriage until they feel financially stable, and research shows that increasing college debt and inconsistent income are related to delays in marriage.
Delaying the age at which people marry and have dependents also delays binge drinking-related protective factors that accompany those steps in life, according to researchers. For example, young adults ages 22 to 25 who were living with a spouse were 70 percent less likely to engage in binge drinking than their peers who were single.
“But we also found there are some stressors, such as work-related stress, school-related stress and relationship-related stress, that increase the risk of engaging in binge drinking,” Greene said.
“You cannot remove stress from life. It’s just part of it,” she said.
But researchers believe one prevention strategy that could help is teaching people life skills needed to cope with life’s stressors in healthy ways before they become young adults.