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Walther, Christine A.P. (2014) POST-HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION TRAJECTORIES, ADULT ROLE TRANSITIONS, AND MATURING OUT OF HEAVY ALCOHOL USE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Studies of drinking trajectories during the late teens and the twenties have focused almost exclusively on young adults who attend college. It is unclear if young adults outside of this educational pathway report different trajectories of alcohol use than those who attend college. The purpose of this study was to compare developmental trajectories of alcohol use and problems in a nationally representative sample (N = 8984) of individuals who did and did not attend college. Adult role transitions and adolescent psychological functioning were examined as potential predictors that might explain differences in alcohol use trajectories between the groups. Although non-college participants reported higher levels of binge drinking and alcohol problems at age 18 than college participants, both groups unexpectedly reported similar increases in alcohol use and problems during emerging adulthood, as well as similar decreases in alcohol use during the mid-twenties and early thirties. Even though non-college participants reported transitioning to adult roles earlier than the college participants, few of the associations between the adult role transitions and the alcohol use and problems trajectories differed between the groups. Finally, though the non-college group had poorer psychological adjustment in adolescence than the college group, worse adjustment was similarly associated with later adult role transitions and, surprisingly, flatter alcohol use trajectories in both groups. These results indicate that increased participation in heavy drinking, as well as later desistance, is relatively universal during this developmental period and not specific to young adults who attend college. In addition, the associations between adult role transitions, adolescent psychological functioning, and the trajectories of alcohol use and problems found in both groups suggest that drinking patterns during young adulthood are influenced by similar factors regardless of college attendance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Walther, Christine A.P.cap63@pitt.eduCAP63
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMolina, Brookemolinab@upmc.eduBROOKEM
Committee CoChairMonahan, MONAHAN
Committee MemberShaw, CASEY
Committee MemberSayette, Michael Asayette@pitt.eduSAYETTE
Date: 25 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 July 2014
Approval Date: 25 September 2014
Submission Date: 6 August 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 131
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maturing out, heavy alcohol use, college students, emerging adulthood, adult roles, adolescent mental health
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2014 17:59
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:42


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