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Alcohol Involvement and Developmental Task Completion during Young Adulthood

Heather J. Gotham, Kenneth J. Sher, Phillip K. Wood

Objective: Relations among young adult alcohol use disorders (AUDs), preadulthood variables (gender, family history of alcoholism, childhood stressors, high-school class rank, religious involvement, neuroticism, extraversion, psychoticism) and young adult developmental tasks (baccalaureate degree completion, full-time employment, marriage) were evaluated. Method: Participants were 424 first-time college students (228 women) who were 18-20 years old; approximately half had a history of paternal alcoholism. Participants were assessed on five occasions over 7 years (Years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7). Results: Structural equation modeling results suggest preadulthood variables were more salient predictors of developmental tasks than AUD diagnoses, with the majority of effects due to apparent selection processes. In addition, marriage protected against later AUD diagnosis at Year 7. Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of prospective multivariate models that specify potential selection, causation, socialization and reciprocal effects in order to fully examine complex relations among variables, including alcohol involvement, during major life-transition periods. (J. Stud. Alcohol 64: 32-42, 2003)