THE ROLE OF DRINKING TO COPE IN IMPACTING ALCOHOL-RELATED BEHAVIOURS AND OUTCOMES AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
This dissertation focused on understanding the role of coping motives in alcohol behaviours and outcomes among undergraduates in a series of three studies. Study 1 examined the effects of drinking motives and mood on lab-based alcohol consumption among 81 undergraduates. Results revealed that socially motivated (SM) drinkers consumed more alcohol when a positive, compared to an anxious, mood was induced. Findings indicated that while CAM drinkers did not consume more alcohol when experiencing anxiety, they also did not show the normative and healthier pattern of inhibiting their alcohol consumption when feeling anxious. Study 2a investigated the cross-sectional role of CAM, coping with depression motives (CDM), and conformity motives in mediating the relationship between the social avoidance aspect of social anxiety and alcohol problems in 263 undergraduates. Results showed that CDM fully mediated this relationship. The use of a social avoidance measure, which is linked to depression, is a potential explanation for this finding. Study 2b replicated and extended Study 2a with 189 undergraduates by including coping with social anxiety motives (CSAM) as well as drinking context (i.e., personal/intimate contexts and negative emotional contexts) as additional mediators in a chained mediation model. Study 2b revealed that in addition to CDM, CSAM fully and independently mediated the social avoidance – alcohol problems relationship. Drinking contexts generally did not sequentially mediate the social avoidance – alcohol problems relationship, though the negative reinforcement drinking motives did predict heavier alcohol consumption in these risky contexts. Finally, Study 3 replicated and extended Study 2a using a longitudinal design with three bi-annual data collection waves over a period of eighteen months in 219 undergraduates. Study 3 showed that CDM mediated the prospective relationship between social avoidance and alcohol problems. Overall, the results of this dissertation shed new light on how various coping motives impact alcohol-related behaviours and outcomes among undergraduates. My findings suggest that learning to inhibit their drinking when anxious may be a helpful harm reduction strategy for CAM drinkers. Moreover, providing socially avoidant undergraduates with healthier coping strategies for social anxiety and associated depressive symptoms may be beneficial in reducing the alcohol problems that develop over time.