Background: The transition from high school to college is a critical period for developing college drinking habits. Hazardous alcohol consumption increases during this period, as well as participation in drinking games, pregaming, and tailgating. All of these risky drinking practices are associated with higher levels of intoxication as well as an increased risk of alcohol-related problems. Objective: The current study aimed to evaluate pre-college predictors (personality, social norms, and beliefs reflecting the internalization of the college drinking culture [ICDC]) of estimated peak BAC (pBAC) reached during drinking games, pregaming, and tailgating, as well as pBAC and alcohol-related problems during the first 30 days of college. Methods: Participants (n=936) were incoming freshmen at a large university who completed a baseline assessment prior to college matriculation and a follow-up assessment after they had been on campus for 30 days. Results: Using path analysis, ICDC was significantly associated with pBAC reached during the three risky drinking practices. ICDC had an indirect effect on both pBAC and alcohol-related problems via pBAC from drinking games, pregaming, and tailgating. Hopelessness and sensation seeking were significantly related to alcohol use outcomes. Conclusion: Precollege perceptions of the college drinking culture are a stronger predictor of subsequent alcohol use than social norms. Interventions that target these beliefs may reduce peak intoxication and associated harms experienced during the first 30 days of college.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health