This study examined the association of alcohol use with the persistence and desistance of serious violent offending among African American and Caucasian young men from adolescence into emerging adulthood. Five violence groups were defined: nonviolent, late-onsetters, desisters, persisters, and one-time offenders. We examined alcohol use trajectories for these groups spanning 12 through 24/25 years of age using a four-piecewise linear growth model s 12-14, 14-18, 18-21, and 21-24/25 years of age. The persisters and desisters reported the highest levels of drinking at 13 years of age. From 14 to 18 years old, however, the late-onsetters showed a higher rate of increase in drinking, compared with the persisters and desisters. Starting at 18 years of age, the desisters' drinking trajectory started to resemble that of the nonviolent group, who showed the highest rate of increase in drinking during emerging adulthood. By 24/25 years of age, the persisters could not be distinguished from the late-onsetters, but they were lower than the nonviolent and one-timer groups in terms of their drinking. At 24/25 years old, the desisters were not significantly different from the other violence groups, although they seemed most similar to the nonviolent and one-timer groups. We found no evidence that the association between drinking and violence differed for African Americans and Caucasians. The findings suggest that yearly changes in alcohol use could provide important clues for preventing violent offending.
- Piecewise growth curve analysis