Many underage youth use false identification (ID) to circumvent minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws in order to obtain alcohol. While underage students tend to drink less frequently than their older college peers, they are more likely to engage in high-risk drinking and are at risk for developing alcohol use disorders (AUDs). A new study of the contributory role of false ID use to the development of AUDs among college students has found that almost two-thirds of the sample used false IDs
“Alcohol use is extremely prevalent among underage youth in the United States – despite MLDA laws – and poses health and safety risks,” said Amelia M. Arria, associate professor of behavioral and community health and director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health, as well as corresponding author for the study. “Alcohol is easy for most youth to obtain, and false IDs comprise one of the factors contributing to alcohol’s easy accessibility.”
Arria added that false ID use seems to be related to high-risk drinking in at least two major ways. “First, heavy drinkers tend to be more likely to obtain and use a false ID,” she said. “Second, false ID use appears to contribute to further increases in how much and how often a student drinks. In our sample, we found a clear pathway from more frequent false ID use to more frequent drinking, which led to greater risk for developing alcohol dependence, even after adjusting for several risk factors for AUDs. Thus, we believe false ID use contributes to high-risk drinking patterns because it increases the accessibility of alcohol and makes it easier for students to drink more frequently.” This study is the first to examine the association between false ID use and subsequent risk for developing AUDs.
Arria and her colleagues recruited 1,015 college students (529 females, 486 males) – who had drank alcohol at least once in their lives by their first year in college – for annual assessments during their first four years of college. In addition to questions about the use of false IDs, researchers also examined several other factors that might increase risk for an AUD, such as: 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); and perception of peer drinking norms.
“First, we found that 66.1 percent of the sample used false IDs,” said Arria, “and on average, we estimated that they used false IDs 24.1 percent of the times they drank before they turned 21. Second, we demonstrated that false ID use led to increases in drinking frequency and quantity