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Heavy Episodic Drinking on College Campuses: Does Changing the Legal Drinking Age Make a Difference?
Jawaid W. Rasul, Robert G. Rommel, Geoffrey M. Jacquez, Ben G. Fitzpatrick, Azmy S. Ackleh, Neal Simonsen, Richard A. Scribner
Objective: This article extends the compartmental model previously developed by Scribner et al. in the context of college drinking to a mathematical model of the consequences of lowering the legal drinking age. Method: Using data available from 32 U.S. campuses, the analyses separate underage and legal age drinking groups into an eight-compartment model with different alcohol availability (wetness) for the underage and legal age groups. The model evaluates the likelihood that underage students will incorrectly perceive normative drinking levels to be higher than they actually are (i.e., misperception) and adjust their drinking accordingly by varying the interaction between underage students in social and heavy episodic drinking compartments. Results: The results evaluate the total heavy episodic drinker population and its dependence on the difference in misperception, as well as its dependence on underage wetness, legal age wetness, and drinking age. Conclusions: Results suggest that an unrealistically extreme combination of high wetness and low enforcement would be needed for the policies related to lowering the drinking age to be effective. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 72, 15-23, 2011)