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Identifying Patterns of Adolescent Drinking: A Tri-Ethnic Study
Cindy Stewart, Thomas G. Power
Objective: The present study was designed to identify common patterns of adolescent drinking in a tri-ethnic sample and to identify which patterns may be the most problematic in each ethnic group. Method: Students (N = 1,874, 60% female) in 9th through 12th grade (653 African Americans, 722 European Americans and 499 Mexican Americans), recruited from six high schools in a large metropolitan school district in the Southwest, completed questionnaires on their drinking practices, self-esteem and involvement in antisocial behaviors. Results: Cluster analyses performed on 950 students identified eight common adolescent drinking patterns: Light, Parent, Family Occasion, Date, Moderate-Friend, Party, Outdoor and Heavy Multiple-Context drinkers. As predicted, Light, Parent and Family Occasion drinkers showed the highest levels of self-esteem and the lowest levels of drinking consequences, drinking reasons and antisocial behavior. Heavy Multiple-Context drinkers showed low self-esteem and high levels of antisocial behavior, drinking reasons and drinking consequences. Party and Date drinkers generally fell between these two groups on the drinking and adjustment variables, with the exception that Date drinkers were as likely to engage in antisocial behaviors as were drinkers in the Heavy Multiple-Context group. Among all of the drinking groups, Outdoor drinkers showed the highest levels of self-esteem, high levels of antisocial behavior and moderate levels of drinking reasons and consequences. Follow-up analyses showed that the differences between the groups on adjustment and consequences were not simply a function of the frequency and quantity of consumption. Conclusions: These findings, taken together, help identify patterns of normative, problem and at-risk drinking, which should be useful in the assessment of adolescent drinking and in future research on the consequences of adolescent alcohol use. (J. Stud. Alcohol 63: 156-168, 2002)