Social Drinking Contexts and Their Influence on Problematic Drinking at Age 30

Subst Use Misuse. 2020;55(2):188-199. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2019.1660679. Epub 2019 Sep 13.


Aims: Understanding the social contexts in which problematic drinking occurs can inform prevention strategies. In this article, we investigate gender-specific social contexts associated with problematic drinking and depression among adults aged 30 years. Because depression has been consistently linked with harmful alcohol consumption, we will also examine its association with drinking contexts. Methods: We used data from 2490 young adults who completed the 30-year follow-up phase of the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy and its Outcomes, a prospective study commenced in 1981. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used to identify latent constructs of drinking contexts stratified by gender, with subsequent regression analysis to assess the role of these contexts in problematic drinking (measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test). Results: Six distinct drinking contexts were identified, which differed by gender, three for men and three for women. For both men and women, "social drinking", was associated with problematic drinking. "Home drinking" was also common to men and women but associations with problematic drinking differed, being risky only among men. "Daytime drinking" (women) was associated with risk but "work-related drinking" (men) was not. Both "home drinking" (men) and "daytime drinking" (women) were linked to depression symptoms. Conclusion: Specific contexts appeared to be associated with problematic drinking for both sexes. Among both men and women, "social drinking" was associated with problematic drinking. Both "home drinking" (men) and "daytime drinking" (women) contexts, were associated with problematic drinking and depressive symptoms. Targeted alcohol-focused interventions need to address co-occurring mental health issues.

Keywords: Social drinking contexts; aged 30; depression symptoms; gender; problematic drinking; young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*