High Spirits? Exploring “Halloweekend” Alcohol and Cannabis Use Among Heavy-Drinking College Students


Objective:

Specific events are associated with heavier and riskier substance use behaviors among college students, including holidays like Halloween that may include several days of themed parties/events (“Halloweekend”). The current study compared drinking, pregaming (i.e., fast-paced drinking prior to going out for the night), cannabis use, same-day alcohol and cannabis co-use, and negative alcohol-related consequences over Halloweekend compared to two adjacent non-Halloween weekends among a sample of heavy-drinking university students.


Method:

Participants (N = 228; 65% female) provided 28 days of daily diary data. We used a 3-level generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) approach estimating zero-inflated Conway-Maxwell Poisson regressions to assess the effect of weekend and specific weekend day on number of overall drinks, number of pregaming drinks, and negative alcohol-related consequences. Proportions tests assessed for differences in any cannabis use and daily co-use between Halloweekend and non-Halloween weekends.


Results:

Zero-inflated portions of the GLMMs indicated general drinking, pregaming, and negative consequences were most prevalent on Halloweekend and Fridays and Saturdays. Count portions of the models indicated general drinking quantity was highest during these periods, and participants experienced a greater number of negative consequences on Halloweekend compared to the weekend prior; no differences were observed in the quantity of pregaming drinks consumed across weekends or days. No significant differences in cannabis use or co-use were observed between weekends.


Discussion:

Given risk associated with Halloweekend compared to weekends immediately prior to and after, interventions targeting alcohol use and pregaming on Halloweekend may be beneficial to reduce related harm for heavy-drinking students.

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