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Keywords:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder;
  • Alcohol Use Patterns;
  • College Students;
  • False ID Use;
  • Longitudinal Study

Background

It is well known that using false identification (ID) is a common method by which underage youth in the United States obtain alcohol. While false ID use is associated with high-risk drinking patterns, its association with alcohol use disorder (AUD), independent of other risk factors, has not been firmly established.

Methods

Participants were 1,015 college students recruited from 1 university and assessed annually during their first 4 years of college. Latent variable growth curve modeling was used to identify significant predictors of false ID use and test the hypothesis that false ID use increased the risk for AUD, by increasing the frequency and/or quantity of alcohol use. Several other hypothesized risk factors for AUD were accounted for, including demographics (sex, race, living situation, religiosity, socioeconomic status), individual characteristics (childhood conduct problems, sensation-seeking, age at first drink), high school behaviors (high school drinking frequency, drug use), family factors (parental monitoring, parental alcohol problems), perception of peer drinking norms, and other factors related to false ID use.

Results

False IDs were used by almost two-thirds (66.1%) of the sample. False ID use frequency was positively associated with baseline quantity and frequency of alcohol use, independent of all other factors tested. False ID use was not directly related to AUD risk, but indirectly predicted increases in AUD risk over time through its association with greater increases in alcohol use frequency over time. Several predictors of false ID use frequency were also identified.

Conclusions

False ID use may contribute to AUD risk by facilitating more frequent drinking. If replicated, these findings highlight the potential public health significance of policies that enforce sanctions against false ID use. Students who use false IDs represent an important target population for alcohol prevention activities.