Self and partner alcohol-related problems among ACOAs and non-ACOAs: associations with depressive symptoms and motivations for alcohol use

Addict Behav. 2014 Jan;39(1):211-8. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.08.037. Epub 2013 Oct 12.


The present study examined whether drinking motivations and depressive symptoms would have a stronger impact on alcohol-related problems among adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) and their dating partners as compared to non-ACOAs and their dating partners. Participants were 197 undergraduate (60 ACOAs, 137 non-ACOAs) 18 to 25year-old female drinkers in dating relationships. Participants completed measures of ACOA screening, depressive symptoms, and drinking motives, as well as alcohol-related problems for themselves and their partner. Although no differences were found between ACOA and non-ACOA women's alcohol-related problems, ACOA women and women with greater depressive symptoms were at a higher risk of having a partner with more alcohol-related problems. In addition, we found that regardless of parental history of alcoholism, higher depressive symptoms coupled with stronger motives for drinking to cope with stressors predicted participants' own alcohol-related problems. These findings demonstrate the need for future research to examine additional factors that may moderate the effects of depressive symptoms and ACOA status on female college student drinking problems. A greater understanding of the unique and interactive effects of these variables on alcohol-related problems in both young women and their dating partners can aid in the development of prevention programs more targeted to the specific vulnerabilities of this population.

Keywords: Adult children of alcoholics; Alcohol problems; Dating partners; Depressive symptoms; Drinking motives.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Children / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Alcoholism*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult