Does one day of drinking matter? 21st birthday drinking predicts subsequent drinking and consequences

Irene M. Geisner, Melissa A. Lewis, Isaac C. Rhew, Angela J. Mittmann, Mary E. Larimer, Christine M. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective There has been ample research on college student risks and consequences related to 21st Birthday Drinking. To date, no studies we are aware of have examined how 21st birthday drinking impacts subsequent drinking and related consequences. This study evaluates the effect of a single night of drinking on peak drinking, heavy drinking, and negative consequences over 12 months following the event. Furthermore, we examine if typical drinking behavior prior to 21st birthday moderates the relationship between the event drinking and subsequent use. Method Participants included 599 college students (46% male) who intended to consume at least five/four drinks (men/women respectively) on their 21st birthday. Screening and baseline assessments were completed approximately four weeks before turning 21. A follow-up assessment was completed approximately one week after students' birthdays and every 3 months for one year thereafter. Results Those who drank more on their 21st birthday, also reported higher peak consumption, increased likelihood of consequences, and increased number of consequences throughout the year. Additionally, baseline peak drinking moderated the relationship such that those who drank less at peak occasion prior to turning 21 showed the strongest effects of 21st BD drinking on subsequent consumption. Conclusions 21st BD drinking could impact subsequent choices and problems related to alcohol. Interventions are warranted and implications discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-61
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • 21st birthday
  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol-related problems
  • College students
  • Event-specific drinking


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