Alternative measures of alcohol use across adolescence and emerging adulthood: Implications for predicting alcohol-related problems

The use of alternative alcohol indices in developmental research may generate conflicting findings in the literature. This study examined the longitudinal associations among four dimensions of alcohol involvement from age 15-25 and compared their ability to predict alcohol-related problems in emerging adulthood. Four dimensions of alcohol use were compared: frequency, quantity, heavy episodic drinking and volume. The findings showed that while correlated over time, dimensions of alcohol involvement significantly differed in their average rate of growth and in the prediction of alcohol-related problems in emerging adulthood. Using measures of heavy episodic drinking and volume may improve our understanding of how alcohol use and alcohol-related problems unfold over the course of adolescence and emerging adulthood. However, reliance on drinking frequency as a sole consumption may be problematic.