Prevention Science

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 241–248 | Cite as

Why Do High School Seniors Drink? Implications for a Targeted Approach to Intervention

  • Donna L. CoffmanEmail author
  • Megan E. Patrick
  • Lori Ann Palen
  • Brittany L. Rhoades
  • Alison K. Ventura


The transition from high school to college provides a potentially critical window to intervene and reduce risky behavior among adolescents. Understanding the motivations (e.g., social, coping, enhancement) behind high school seniors’ alcohol use could provide one important avenue to reducing risky drinking behaviors. In the present study, latent class analysis was used to examine the relationship between different patterns of drinking motivations and behaviors in a sample of 12th graders (N = 1,877) from the 2004 Monitoring the Future survey. Unlike previous variable-centered analyses, this person-centered approach identifies types of motivations that cluster together within individuals and relates membership in these profiles to drinking behaviors. Results suggest four profiles of drinking motivations for both boys and girls, including Experimenters, Thrill-seekers, Multi-reasoners, and Relaxers. Early initiation of alcohol use, past year drunkenness, and drinking before 4 p.m. were associated with greater odds of membership in the Multi-reasoners class as compared to the Experimenters class. Although the strength of these relationships varied for boys and girls, findings were similar across gender suggesting that the riskiest drinking behavior was related to membership in the Multi-reasoners class. These findings can be used to inform prevention programming. Specifically, targeted interventions that tailor program content to the distinct drinking motivation profiles described above may prove to be effective in reducing risky drinking behavior among high school seniors.


Alcohol use High school seniors Latent class analysis Targeted interventions 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna L. Coffman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
    Email author
  • Megan E. Patrick
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lori Ann Palen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Brittany L. Rhoades
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alison K. Ventura
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.The Prevention Research CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.The Methodology CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.The Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.The Center for Childhood Obesity ResearchThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  5. 5.The Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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