Drinking motives in the prospective prediction of unique alcohol-related consequences in college students

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2014 Jan;75(1):93-102. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2014.75.93.


Objective: Although college students experience a diverse range of alcohol consequences, most studies focus on global, rather than distinct, consequence types. One predictor of unique consequences-drinking motives-has been studied only cross-sectionally. We aimed to examine the prediction of unique alcohol consequence domains (social/interpersonal, academic/occupational, risky behavior, impaired control, poor self-care, diminished self-perception, blackout drinking, and physiological dependence) by coping and enhancement motives over the course of one year. We hypothesized that coping motives would directly predict and that enhancement motives would indirectly (through alcohol use) predict unique consequences.

Method: Web surveys were administered to a sample of college students (n = 552, 62% female) at the beginning of the fall semester for 2 consecutive academic years. Structural equation modeling was used to test direct and indirect paths from motives to consequences.

Results: The data supported hypothesized direct, prospective paths from coping motives to several alcohol consequences (impaired control, diminished self-perception, poor self-care, risky behaviors, academic/occupational, and physiological dependence). These associations were not mediated by alcohol consumption. Enhancement motives were indirectly associated with all eight consequence domains by way of increased alcohol use at follow-up. Models were invariant across gender, year in school, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that whether motives act as a final common pathway to problem drinking may depend on which motives and which drinking outcomes are examined. As coping motives demonstrate a direct link to unique alcohol problem types over time, individuals endorsing these motives may need to be prioritized for intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motivation* / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult