Title "Predictors of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems in college women: Affect dysregulation and alcohol expectancies." Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, June 28 - July 2, 2008, Washington, DC.
There has been little change in the high prevalence of alcohol use among the college student population. Annual drinking rates hover around 80-85%, with approximately 40% admitting to binge drinking. Many students frequently experience personal, social, and academic problems due to alcohol consumption. Discovering the traits, attitudes, and beliefs related to drinking and related problems is essential for developing intervention programs. This is particularly important for college women drinkers, as risky drinking is increasing in this group and the incidence of negative consequences (i.e., sexual victimization, alcohol's physical effects) is particularly high. Though studies have supported the relationship of alcohol consumption to alcohol expectancies, affect dysregulation, and positive and negative affect, a single study has not combined these variables and investigated their relationship to alcohol use and alcohol-related problems in college-aged women.
To address this gap in the literature, 150 college women (18-24 years old, 48.7% Caucasian) were surveyed. Positive alcohol expectancies, affect dysregulation, and self-reported positive and negative affect, were used to predict alcohol consumption (i.e., drinks per drinking day) and alcohol-related problems. Correlational and regression analyses indicated that for these women, only their positive expectations accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in drinking intensity, p<.001.
The findings were different for predicting problems related to drinking. Both positive alcohol expectancies and affect dysregulation accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in alcohol-related problems, p<.001. Additionally, positive expectations moderated the relationship between affect dysregulation and alcohol consequences. The effect of affect dysregulation on the accumulation of consequences is not consistent across levels of positive expectations. Specifically, as positive expectations increase, the influence of affect dysregulation on alcohol-related problems becomes more pronounced.
This study supported the notion that alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems are likely distinct constructs with unique predictors. Thus, what predicts problems related to alcohol use and what predicts drinking intensity differ. Intervention components need to address affect dysregulation and positive alcohol expectancies to reduce alcohol-related problems in college women drinkers.