Drinking motives mediate emotion regulation difficulties and problem drinking in college students.

Research paper by Pallavi P Aurora, Alicia K AK Klanecky

Indexed on: 26 Feb '16Published on: 26 Feb '16Published in: The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse


Problem drinking in college places students at an increased risk for a wealth of negative consequences including alcohol use disorders. Most research has shown that greater emotion regulation difficulties are related to increased problem drinking, and studies generally assume that drinking is motivated by efforts to cope with or enhance affective experiences. However, there is a lack of research specifically testing this assumption.The current study sought to examine the mediating potential of drinking motives, specifically coping and enhancement, on the relationship between emotion regulation and problem drinking.College participants (N = 200) completed an online survey, consisting of a battery of measures assessing alcohol use behaviors and related variables.Coping drinking motives fully mediated the emotion regulation/problem drinking relationship, and enhancement motives partially mediated this relationship. Exploratory analyses indicated that all four drinking motives (i.e. coping, enhancement, social, and conformity) simultaneously mediated the relationship between emotion regulation and quantity/frequency of alcohol use. However, only coping and enhancement significantly mediated the relationship between emotion regulation and alcohol-related consequences (e.g. alcohol dependence symptoms, alcohol-related injuries).The current results offer direction for potentially modifying brief alcohol interventions in efforts to reduce students' engagement in problem drinking behaviors. For example, interventions might incorporate information on the risks of using alcohol as a means of emotion regulation and offer alternative emotion regulation strategies.