Providing Alcohol to Underage Youth: The View from Young Adulthood

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Many underage drinkers obtain alcohol from legal-age family, friends, and acquaintances. This study aimed to understand the attitudes and behaviors of young adults related to providing alcohol to underage drinkers.


Participants were 755 current or recent college students of legal drinking age (ages 22 to 26) who were approached by a minor to provide alcohol at least once since turning 21. Interviewers assessed frequency of providing alcohol, relationship to the recipients, and general attitudes about providing alcohol to minors. Separate questions asked about younger (under 18) and older (18 to 20) minors. Correlates and predictors of provision and frequency of provision were examined via logistic regression and Poisson regression, focusing on demographics, sensation-seeking, behavioral dysregulation, age at first drink, parental history of alcohol problems, fraternity/sorority involvement, attitudes about provision, violations, peer drinking norms, and alcohol use disorder (AUD) risk during and post-college.


Most participants (84.6%) provided alcohol to minors at least once. Provision to older minors was more prevalent (82.8%) than to younger minors (20.7%); it was also more frequent. Few (2.4%) were ever caught providing alcohol. Recipients were more commonly friends or family members rather than acquaintances or strangers. Legal concerns about providing alcohol (82.5 and 53.7% for younger and older minors, respectively) were more prevalent than health concerns (55.7 and 9.5%). Legal concerns consistently predicted lower likelihood of provision, independent of demographics. Health concerns and lower post-college AUD risk scores also independently predicted lower likelihood of provision, but only to older minors. Fraternity/sorority involvement and higher peer drinking norms were associated with higher provision frequency, whereas legal concerns and college violations were associated with lower provision frequency.


Young adults who have recently turned 21 could represent an important target for prevention strategies to reduce underage drinking on college campuses. More research is needed to understand the motivations of young adults who provide alcohol to underage drinkers.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles