Objective: The goal of the present study was to examine whether within-person, episode-specific changes in drinking-to-cope (DTC) motivation from the previous evening were associated with concurrent daily mood and fatigue-related symptoms among college student drinkers (N = 1,421; 54% female).
Method: We conducted an Internet-based daily diary study in which students reported over 30 days on their previous night's drinking level and motivation and their current mood (i.e., sadness, anxiety, anger/hostility, and positive mood) and fatigue-related symptoms. Hypotheses were tested using hierarchical linear models in which the current day's outcome was predicted by last night's levels of DTC motivation and drinking, controlling for drinking to enhance motivation, sex, current day's physical symptoms and drinking, and yesterday's level of the outcome. Subsequent models also predicted outcomes 2 days following the drinking event.
Results: Relative increases in previous night's DTC motivation were associated with higher levels of current day negative mood and fatigue-related symptoms and lower levels of positive mood. Also, the association between episode-specific DTC motivation and negative mood was stronger in the positive direction when individuals reported higher levels of nonsocial drinking from the previous night. Last, episode-specific DTC showed similar associations with sadness and anger/hostility 2 days after the drinking event.
Conclusions: The results are generally consistent with the posited attention allocation and ego-depletion mechanisms. Findings suggest that the deleterious effects of repeated episodes of DTC, over time, could help to explain the increased likelihood of alcohol-related problems seen in prior studies.