Category: Health Psychology / Behavioral Medicine - Adult
Common motives to drink alcohol include social, conformity, coping, and enhancement of positive affect (Cooper, 1994). Stewart, Zeitlin, and Samoluk (1996) found that the most common motive for drinking in a non-clinical college sample was social. Although coping was the least common motive to drink in the same sample (Stewart et. al., 1996), drinking to cope has been associated with adverse childhood experiences; as people drink to reduce tension or to cope by reducing negative affect and enhancing positive affect, the risk for alcohol use disorders increases (Grayson & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2005). In addition, difficulties with emotion regulation (ER) have been shown to predict alcohol dependence (Berking et al., 2011). Furthermore, Kuvaas et al. (2014) conducted a latent class analysis that indicated a four-class model of alcohol use; the resulting alcohol use patterns were found to be associated with self-regulation difficulties. Given that prior research indicates that alcohol use patterns are associated with regulation difficulties, and that drinking motives also play a role in the determination of negative consequences, a model of alcohol use that combines drinking behavior, motives, and regulation may benefit the assessment of risk associated with alcohol use. The current study contributes to the literature by conducting a latent profile analysis (LPA) of problematic drinking behaviors, drinking motives, and ER difficulties to determine whether distinct patterns of risk emerge from the combined assessment of each variable.
College students (N = 311) self-reported drinking behaviors, ER difficulties, and social, coping, enhancement, and conformity drinking motives. A LPA using mclust (Fraley, Raftery, Murphy, & Scrucca, 2012) in R indicated a 7-profile model, BIC = -10628.66. Profiles indicated by the LPA included: (1) low levels of problematic drinking behaviors, low levels of ER difficulties, high social drinking motives, and moderate enhancement and conformity motives; (2) moderate levels of problematic drinking behaviors, low levels of ER difficulties, high social drinking motives, and moderate enhancement motives; (3) low levels of problematic drinking behaviors, low levels of ER difficulties, and low social and enhancement drinking motives; (4) low levels of problematic drinking behaviors, low levels of ER difficulties, and low conformity and coping drinking motives; (5) moderate levels of problematic drinking behaviors, high levels of ER difficulties, high conformity, coping, and enhancement drinking motives, and moderate social motives; (6) moderate levels of problematic drinking behaviors, high levels of ER difficulties, high enhancement drinking motives, and moderate coping and conformity motives; and (7) high levels of problematic drinking, moderate levels of ER difficulties, and moderate coping drinking motives. Overall, our results suggest that the risks associated with alcohol use in college students may be better understood by assessing patterns of drinking behavior, drinking motives, and ER difficulties, and that the assessment of each variable may allow for better identification of college students who are at higher risk for negative consequences associated with alcohol use.