The aim of this study was to determine outcomes in adult life of binge drinking in adolescence in a national British study over thirty years from 1970.
A total of 11,622 subjects participated at age 16 years and 11,261 subjects participated at age 30 years.
At the age of 16 years, data on binge drinking (defined as two or more episodes of drinking four or more drinks in a row in the previous 2 weeks) and frequency of habitual drinking in the previous year were collected. Thirty-year outcomes recorded were alcohol dependence/abuse (CAGE questionnaire), regular weekly alcohol consumption (number of units), illicit drug use, psychological morbidity and educational, vocational and social history.
In 1970, 17.7% of participants reported binge drinking in the previous 2 weeks at the age of 16 years.
Adolescent binge drinking predicted an increased risk in adulthood of;
- adult alcohol dependence 1.6 times average
- excessive regular consumption 1.7 times
- illicit drug use 1.4 times
- psychiatric morbidity 1.4 times average
- homelessness 1.6 times average
- convictions 1.9 times average
- school exclusion 3.9 times average
- lack of qualifications 1.3 times average
- accidents 1.4 times average and
- lower adult social class, after adjustment for adolescent socioeconomic status and adolescent baseline status of the outcome under study.
These findings included both adolescent binge drinking and habitual frequent drinking as main effects.
Adolescent binge drinking is a risk behaviour associated with significant later adversity and social exclusion.
These associations appear to be distinct from those associated with habitual frequent alcohol use.
Binge drinking may contribute to the development of health and social inequalities during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Research report; J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Oct;61(10):902-7. Adult outcomes of binge drinking in adolescence: findings from a UK national birth cohort. Viner RM, Taylor B.