The effects of educational pathways on developmental shifts in alcohol use

This study examined whether there are significant group differences in patterns of alcohol use between those following different educational pathways (no post-secondary education, 2-year college students, 4-year university students, and 2-to-4-year transfer students). The findings showed that those who attended college had significantly higher levels of binge drinking at the time of post-secondary enrolment (PSE) compared to university and transfer students, and university students showed the greatest increase in heavy drinking after enrolment. However, group differences between education groups were completely mediated by age of enrolment.

Overall the findings showed that entry into any type of PSE results in an increase in alcohol consumption; however this increase is less for those who are older when they enroll. For individuals who do not attend PSE, they have started to decline in consumption by age 19. The findings suggest that alcohol interventions should target all adolescents in high school and those entering into PSE during emerging adulthood.

Funding body: Canadian Institute of Health Research