Examining the Relationship Between Alcohol‐Energy Drink Risk Profiles and High‐Risk Drinking Behaviors

Department of Biobehavioral Health , The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.
Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research (Impact Factor: 3.21). 03/2013; 37(8). DOI: 10.1111/acer.12102
Source: PubMed


The mixing of alcohol and energy drinks (AMEDs) is a trend among college students associated with higher rates of heavy episodic drinking and negative alcohol-related consequences. The goals of this study were to take a person-centered approach to identify distinct risk profiles of college students based on AMED-specific constructs (expectancies, attitudes, and norms) and examine longitudinal associations between AMED use, drinking, and consequences.
A random sample of incoming freshmen (n = 387, 59% female) completed measures of AMED use, AMED-specific expectancies, attitudes, and normative beliefs, and drinking quantity and alcohol-related consequences. Data were collected at 2 occasions: spring semester of freshmen year and fall semester of sophomore year.
Latent profile analysis identified 4 subgroups of individuals: occasional AMED, anti-AMED, pro-AMED, and strong peer influence. Individuals in the pro-AMED group reported the most AMED use, drinking, and consequences. There was a unique association between profile membership and AMED use, even after controlling for drinking.
Findings highlighted the importance of AMED-specific expectancies, attitudes, and norms. The unique association between AMED risk profiles and AMED use suggests AMED use is a distinct behavior that could be targeted by AMED-specific messages included in existing brief interventions for alcohol use.

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    ABSTRACT: Individuals who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmEDs) have been identified as higher-risk drinkers, as they are more prone to drink increased amounts of alcohol and experience more consequences compared with non-AmED users. The present study examined differential AmED use and alcohol consumption simultaneously as multidimensional risk behaviors among AmED users. Students who identified as drinkers and current AmED users (n = 195) completed a Web-based survey related to their AmED consumption and typical drinking patterns. Latent profile analysis was used to classify participants into distinct AmED user profiles. Profiles were then compared on AmED-based cognitive factors (e.g., expectancies, norms) and alcohol-related consequences. Four AmED user profiles emerged: moderate drinker, low proportion AmED users (ML); heavy drinker, low proportion AmED users (HL); moderate drinker, high proportion AmED users (MH); and heavy drinker, high proportion AmED users (HH). Membership in higher-proportion AmED groups was associated with more positive AmED expectancies and perceived norms. No significant differences were observed in the amount of consequences endorsed by HL and HHs; however, MHs experienced significantly more alcohol-related physical consequences than MLs. This suggests that increased use of AmEDs is associated with increased risk of experiencing alcohol-related consequences for moderate drinkers. Screening students for AmED use could be used as a novel, inexpensive tool to identify high-risk drinkers for targeted interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption and related problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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