Racial Differences in Type of Alcoholic Beverage Consumed During Adolescence in the Pittsburgh Girls Study
White, compared with Black, adolescents have higher rates of alcohol use and show more rapid increases in alcohol use. Racial differences in type of alcohol beverage (i.e., beer, wine, and liquor) consumed by youth have received scant attention, and little is known regarding changes in type of alcohol beverage consumed during adolescence, when experimentation may transition to more regular use.
This study used repeated measures latent class analysis to identify distinct profiles that represent change in type of alcohol beverage consumed across ages 11 to 18 and to examine predictors (e.g., caretaker alcohol use, perceived peer alcohol use, ease in accessing alcohol, perceived neighborhood risk indicated by witnessing drug dealing), most of which were measured at ages 11 to 12, of alcohol use profiles in the Pittsburgh Girls Study (n = 2,171; 57% Black, 43% White), a community sample with annual follow-ups.
Among Black girls, 2 profiles were identified: Low Use (76%), and Alcohol Use involving primarily liquor starting around age 15 (24%). Among White girls, 4 profiles were identified: Wine sippers (11%); a Low Use profile with low probability of drinking until age 18, when use of beer and liquor increased (52%); an Increasing Use profile with increased probability of drinking beer and liquor starting at age 15 (23%); and a High Alcohol Use profile, starting with use of wine, then shifting to use primarily of beer and liquor after age 13 (14%). Separate risk factor analyses conducted by race indicated similar predictors for Black and White girls: perceived ease in accessing alcohol, witnessing neighborhood drug dealing, and perceived peer alcohol use were each associated with heavier drinking profiles.
Longitudinal profiles of type of alcoholic beverages, within and across racial groups, can guide the tailoring of interventions to address developmentally salient turning points in alcohol use for specific subgroups of girls.