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The Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Alcohol and Marijuana Use Outcomes Among Concurrent Users

Research has shown that college students with more social anxiety symptoms are more vulnerable to problematic alcohol and marijuana use. For these students, substance use is often a coping mechanism. A recent study examined marijuana and alcohol use among college students with symptoms of social anxiety, specifically focusing on their motivation for substance use.

In this study, college students from 10 universities across the U.S. completed online surveys assessing mental health symptoms, substance use, and motives for substance use. The results of these surveys showed that motives to cope with social anxiety positively mediated substance use problems. Conforming to peer norms was also a motive of alcohol use in students who have social anxiety.

Overall, students with social anxiety who were focused on anxiety management may use alcohol or marijuana in social situations, and are more likely to experience problems related to alcohol use when drinking to fit in with peers.

Take Away: Students with social anxiety are likely to use alcohol and marijuana. Problems related to alcohol use are likely in this population when their motive for drinking is to fit in with peers.

Villarosa-Hurlocker, M.C., Bravo, A.J., Pearson, M.R. (2019). The Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among Concurrent Users: A Motivational Model of Substance Use. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. 43(4):732-740. doi.10.1111/acer.13966.

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