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Spring Break Trips as a Risk Factor for Heavy Alcohol Use Among First-Year College Students

Christine M. Lee, Jennifer L. Maggs, Lela A. Rankin

Objective: Many high school and college students are believed to use spring break vacation to travel to destinations with the intent of engaging in extreme party behaviors, including excessive alcohol use. However, the extent to which spring break travelersí behaviors are more risky than their typical behaviors remains unclear. Method: To assess the impact of spring break as a situational risk factor, we analyzed data collected from 176 first-year college students across 10 weeks using weekly telephone interviews. Results: Using multilevel modeling, we found the following: (1) men, participants in fraternity/sorority organizations, students traveling on spring break trips, and those with higher fun-social alcohol expectancies drank more during the regular semester; (2) alcohol use did not increase during spring break week in general; however, (3) spring break travelers increased their alcohol use during spring break. Conclusions: Spring break trips are a risk factor for escalated alcohol use both during the academic semester and during spring break trips, suggesting that some students may seek out opportunities for excessive alcohol use. Results are discussed in terms of niche selection and prevention implications. (J. Stud. Alcohol 67: 911- 916, 2006)