In 1975 and again in 1981, all adult twins in the population-based Finnish Twin Cohort were administered postal questionnaires yielding data on self-reported frequency and quantity of alcohol use. The longitudinal results provide information on the age-to-age stability of social drinking patterns among 13,404 (twin) individuals aged 18 to 43 at baseline; model-fitting the cross-temporal consistency of the twins' reported alcohol use yields unique estimates of the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to their individual age-to-age stabilities. Mean consumption levels did not change between 1975 and 1981. Patterns of social drinking were more stable in older (aged 24-43 at baseline) than younger (aged 18-23 at baseline) adult twins, and were more stable among men than women. Heritabilities were significant at both baseline and follow-up for all three alcohol measures in both genders and both age groups, with a median magnitude of 0.48. Both longitudinal genetic and environmental covariances were significant, and both were generally higher among older pairs. Genetic covariances (median magnitude = 0.68) were significantly higher than environmental covariances (median = 0.36). Analyses of absolute changes in alcohol use revealed heritable influences on the disposition to change. We conclude that genes contribute to both consistency and change in patterns of alcohol use from early to midadulthood.