Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and future alcohol outcomes: Examining the roles of coping and enhancement drinking motives among young men

PLoS One. 2019 Jun 19;14(6):e0218469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218469. eCollection 2019.


Objective: Although there is evidence that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms are positively related to alcohol use and related problems among young adults, little research has examined the mechanisms that might explain this association. In response, this study examined the mediating effects of coping and enhancement drinking motives on the prospective associations between ADHD symptoms and alcohol outcomes.

Method: Participants (N = 4,536) were young men from the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors. Measures of ADHD symptoms and those of drinking motives, heavy episodic drinking (HED) and alcohol use disorder symptoms were used from the baseline and 15-month follow-up assessments.

Results: Findings indicated that the associations of ADHD-inattention symptoms with alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptoms and with HED were partially and completely mediated through drinking motives, respectively, whereas drinking motives did not mediate the ADHD-hyperactivity/impulsivity-symptoms-alcohol outcomes associations.

Conclusion: Results indicated that coping and enhancement motives partially explained the ADHD-inattention symptoms-subsequent alcohol outcomes association. These findings suggest that interventions targeting enhancement and coping motives may help prevent problematic drinking among young men with elevated ADHD-inattention symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / complications
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / complications
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Students
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol

Grants and funding

This study was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (FN 33CSC0-122679 and FN 33CS30-139467, both awarded to GG). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.