Category: Addictive Behaviors
Coping-motivated alcohol use consistently relates to alcohol use disorder risk across the lifespan; nevertheless, experimental studies to date have focused on high risk or clinical adult samples. These studies indicate a pattern of alcohol desires following acute momentary stress. Yet, it is possible that younger/less experienced drinkers may only report alcohol desires following certain, developmentally relevant social stressors (e.g., peer exclusion), but not circumscribed performance stressors (e.g., public speech) that are infrequently encountered.
To resolve this gap, a community sample of 103 youth (14-17 years; 61% girls) were randomly assigned to complete either an exclusion (Cyberball; n=50) or performance (Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]; n=53) stressor. The current study examined associations between specific emotions (i.e. anxiety, rejection) and alcohol use desires following each stressor, as well as whether preclinical alcohol problems (i.e. AUDIT scores; all < 10) moderated these relations. Emotions and alcohol desires were assessed at baseline and following inclusion/exclusion (Cyberball) or speech/math task (TSST).
A 2x2 Repeated Measures MANOVA confirmed elevations in rejection/anxiety and alcohol use desires following each stressor (η2=.276, pr=.33) and rejection (r=.37), as well as post-inclusion rejection (r=.44), but not anxiety/rejection following either the speech or the math task.
Regression analyses assessed moderation hypotheses (e.g., AUDIT x post-task anxiety on alcohol desires). Demographic covariates, baseline measures, and main effects accounted for 78.4% variance in post-exclusion and 57.0% in post-speech alcohol desires; the moderation term added an extra 5.2% to the post- exclusion (R2=.836) but not speech model (∆R2=.09, p>.05). Specifically, following exclusion, higher levels of anxiety was associated with higher alcohol use desires among youth reporting average or above average preclinical alcohol problems only. Results of the rejection moderations were not significant, indicating further specificity of the preclinical alcohol problem moderation to anxiety post-exclusion (c.f., rejection).
Data suggest that youth with higher preclinical alcohol problems are more inclined to drink during states of rejection induced anxiety. Collectively, the findings highlight the need to examine specific emotions, in specific contexts, across developmental periods to understand the etiology of coping motivated drinking and identify points of early intervention.
Renee Cloutier– PhD Student/NIDA Predoctoral Fellow, University of North Texas, Texas
Jasmin John– University of North Texas, Texas
Maris Adams– University of North Texas
Nathan Kearns– Doctoral Student, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Darian Chambers– University of North Texas
Heidemarie Blumenthal– University of North Texas