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What About This Time? Within- and Between-Person Associations Between Drinking Motives and Alcohol Outcomes

College students are at a higher risk for alcohol consumption which leads to alcohol-related consequences such as embarrassment, adverse sexual outcomes, academic problems, and physical injury. The current study looks at enhancement and coping motives for alcohol consumption to see if they are predictors of alcohol related consequences at a daily level.

Undergraduate students were recruited from a large public university and data was collected through an online survey. The final sample of students included 957 participants with an average age of 19.5 years. The students completed questionnaires asking about demographics, 30 day alcohol use, drinking motives, and alcohol-related consequences. Motives were assessed by asking participants whether they consumed alcohol for seven different reasons: unpleasant emotions, physical discomfort, pleasant emotions, urges or temptations to drink, conflict with others, social pressure to drink, or to have a pleasant time with others. Participants had an average of 3 drinking days within the 30-day period. 10% reported one or more coping-motivated drinking occasions and 56% reported one or more enhancement-motivated drinking occasion.

The results showed that within-person enhancement motives did increase alcohol-related consequences and were associated with increased alcohol use regardless if there were coping motives involved. Drinking to cope motives were found to be directly correlated with alcohol-related consequences at the between-person level regardless if there were enhancement motives involved. This study provides important clinical implications as it may be beneficial to discusses with college student motives behind alcohol consumption. Coping strategies with different among students depending on motives and interventions can be targeted to better help individuals. 

Take Away: The current study looks at enhancement and coping motives for alcohol consumption. Undergraduate students were recruited (957) and completed an online survey including questionnaires on demographics, 30 day alcohol use, drinking motives, and alcohol-related consequences. Results showed that within-person enhancement motives increase alcohol-related consequences and were associated with increased alcohol use. Drinking to cope motives were found to be directly correlated with alcohol-related consequences at the between-person level. This study provides important clinical implications as it may be beneficial to discusses with college student motives behind alcohol consumption. Coping strategies with different among students depending on motives and interventions can be targeted to better help individuals. 

Cook, M. A., Newins, A. R., Dvorak, R. D., & Stevenson, B. L. (2019). What about this time? Within- and between-person associations between drinking motives and alcohol outcomes. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. doi: 10.1037/pha0000332

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