Reasons for alcohol use in young adulthood: validation of a three-dimensional measure

J Stud Alcohol. 2002 Mar;63(2):145-55. doi: 10.15288/jsa.2002.63.145.


Objective: To evaluate the reliability and validity of a measure of reasons for use, which is based on a cognitive mediational view of alcohol use as a means for affect regulation.

Method: Data for this study were obtained from the Rutgers Health and Human Development Project. Self-reports of young men and women aged 25 to 31 years (N = 1,176; 598 women) were used to obtain measures of reasons for use, coping use, sex-enhancing use, use intensity and use problems. Regression analyses and structural equation modeling were used to assess a hypothesized model of relationships between these variables.

Results: Factor analysis of 33 reasons for use yielded three hypothesized dimensions: social reasons, disinhibition reasons and suppression reasons. Although moderately correlated with each other, they exhibited distinct relationships with other use variables. Increases in social reasons were related to decelerating increases in use intensity, but increases in disinhibition and suppression reasons were associated with accelerating increases in use intensity Social reasons did not relate to use problems, whereas suppression reasons were strongly related to use problems even when controlling for use intensity.

Conclusions: Suppression reasons not only motivate reactive coping use in response to the appraisal of stressful situations, they are also likely to instigate "prophylactic" or proactive coping use in anticipation of the possible occurrence of stressors, thereby blunting the emotional impact of encounters that would otherwise have been appraised as stressful and aversive.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Psychometrics
  • Regression Analysis