High-intensity drinking by parental status: Differences by age and sex

Megan E. Patrick, Rebecca Evans-Polce, Anna C. Wagner, Christopher J. Mehus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: To examine differences in high-intensity drinking (HID) by parental status, parent age, and parent sex, including two- and three-way interaction effects of these parent demographic categories. Methods: The present study included individuals ages 18–50 from the National Epidemiologic Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (2012–13), a sample of non-institutionalized adults in the US (N = 22,278). We calculated weighted estimates of past-year HID (≥10/≥8 standard drinks for men/women on a single occasion) for each parental status group (parents of young children <5, parents of children 5–17, not parents of children <18) overall and stratified by sex and stratified by age. We then examined the overall association of parental status and HID and tested for interactions of parental status × sex, parental status × age, and parental status × age × sex, while controlling for other relevant sociodemographic characteristics. Results: Prevalence of HID varied considerably by parental status, with 14.84% of parents with kids under age 5, 12.72% of parents with kids 5 to 17, and 23.15% of non-parents reporting HID. The strength of the associations of parenthood and HID were strongest for females and for older parents. Conclusions: While parents engage in HID less than those who are not parents, a portion of parents of young and adolescent children do report heavy drinking. Younger parents and male parents, in particular, are at high risk for HID. Given the risks to children and parents, interventions focused on preventing HID among parents, especially fathers, could have significant public health impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106180
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Development of this manuscript was supported by research grant R01AA023504 to M. Patrick from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism . The study sponsors had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, writing of the manuscript, or the decision to submit the paper for publication. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the study sponsors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

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