Positive reinforcement and changes in heavy alcohol use from high school to college



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The role of specific aspects of positive reinforcement from alcohol was examined among participants who maintained, increased, or decreased heavy drinking from high school to college. Analyses revealed that pleasure from alcohol-related activities distinguished students who maintained heavy drinking from those who stopped heavy drinking from high school to college. Pleasure from alcohol-related activities as well as positive beliefs that alcohol would enhance sexual pleasure predicted heavier second year drinking beyond the changes in drinking that were associated with the initial transition to college itself. Consequently, positive reinforcement from certain aspects of alcohol is associated with high school to college drinking patterns, which has implications for targeted prevention programs.