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We hypothesized that etiologically relevant parental, peer, and demographic variables would predict both the transition into alcohol use and consequences and the increase in intensity of these outcomes from prematriculation to the sophomore year of college.


College students (N = 388) at a midsized northeastern public university were assessed during the summer before matriculation and during the spring semesters of their freshman and sophomore years. A recently developed mixed model for analyzing longitudinal response patterns with predominating zeros was employed to examine categorical transitions (binary portion) and growth (intensity portion).


As expected, there were strong effects of time reflected in both the binary and intensity portions of the models across the three outcomes (weekly alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking, and alcohol-related problems). Parental permissiveness of drinking and student intention to affiliate with fraternity/sorority organizations predicted the transition to use and consequence status for all three outcomes and for increases in alcohol use and consequences. Peer disapproval of drinking strongly predicted all alcohol use and consequence outcomes. Parental disapproval of heavy drinking, parental monitoring, and male gender were variably influential across the outcomes at low to moderate levels.


Our findings indicate the importance of the parental context (e.g., parental permissiveness of drinking) as well as peer influences (e.g., intended fraternity/sorority involvement) in drinking behavior among college students. These findings underscore the need to examine both onset and growth of drinking outcomes. Intervention and prevention implications are explored.