Emerging adulthood is an age of particularly risky behavior. Substance misuse during this phase of life can be the beginning of longer-term problems, making intervention programs particularly important. This study’s purposes were to identify alcohol use profile subgroups, describe the preintervention characteristics of each, and assess how many participants transitioned to lower-risk profiles during the course of the intervention.
We used latent transition analyses to categorize 1183 people court ordered to attend Prime For Life® (PFL), a motivation-enhancing program, into preintervention and postintervention profiles. We then assessed how many made transitions between these profiles during the course of the intervention.
Profiles included two low-risk statuses (abstinence and light drinking) and two high-risk statuses (occasional heavy drinking and frequent heavy drinking). We found that people in profile subgroups that reflected heavier 90-day preintervention drinking were likely to transition to profiles reflecting postintervention intentions for lower-risk drinking in the subsequent 90 days. In contrast, the likelihood of transitioning from a lower-risk to a higher-risk profile was extremely low. These positive changes were found for people of both sexes and for those above versus below the legal drinking age, albeit for more women than men in the heaviest drinking group.
Findings showed positive changes during intervention for many emerging adult participants attending PFL. Further research is needed that include comparison conditions, as well as examine longer-term outcomes in this population.