Category: Addictive Behaviors
Risky drinking among college students continues to be an important public health concern, making understanding etiological pathways to consequences of use, both positive and negative, an essential task. There is great variability in the extent to which such consequences are evaluated as negative/positive, and these evaluations in turn predict subsequent drinking behavior. Behavioral economic models (Bickel et al., 2014) posit that excessive valuation of alcohol contributes to problematic alcohol use. Though prior work shows alcohol demand (i.e., high perceived alcohol value) is associated with negative alcohol consequences, little is known about whether demand is associated with positive consequences, or subjective evaluations of either positive or negative consequences. To address these gaps, a sample of 124 college student drinkers (73% female) completed an anonymous online survey. Participants indicated whether they had experienced (past month/lifetime) any of 24 negative and 14 positive consequences, and were asked to subjectively evaluate any occurring in the past month (1=extremely positive, 7=extremely negative). An Alcohol Purchase Task assessed hypothetical alcohol consumption across 14 drink prices. Bivariate correlations and multiple regressions were used to test associations between demand indices and both number and subjective evaluations of both positive and negative consequences. Four demand indices (intensity, Omax, breakpoint and elasticity) were bivariately associated with lifetime numbers of both negative and positive consequences. However, in multiple regressions with all four indices and covariates for non-essential spending money and typical drinking, only intensity (consumption at zero cost) was independently associated with number of negative (β=.51, p < .01) and positive consequences (β=.36, p < .01). Although Omax, breakpoint and elasticity were bivariately associated with subjective evaluations of negative consequences, these demand indices were unrelated to negative evaluations in multivariate models, and there was no evidence for a relationship between demand and evaluations of positive consequences. While the subjective evaluation of recent consequences did not vary as a function of perceived value of alcohol in this sample, findings did suggest that students who report that they would consume more drinks if they were free also reported more prior alcohol consequences (both positive and negative), independent of personal levels of drinking. Results provide continued support for behavioral economic models in the examination of etiologic pathways to alcohol consequences and suggest that novel interventions that incorporate manipulation of alcohol demand may reduce consequences of drinking.