Exploring the Differences in Drinking Motives among Adolescent Binge and Non-Binge Drinkers
York, Catherine M.
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Alcohol use often escalates during the period of middle to late adolescence (ages 16 to 20; Brown et al., 2008), which can lead to binge drinking (defined as five or more drinks for males and four or more drinks for females during one drinking occasion). Binge drinking is one of the leading public health concerns for adolescents and may lead to several alcohol-related problems (Courtney & Polich, 2009). The primary goal of this study was to expand upon a motivational model of alcohol use (Cooper, Frone, Russell, & Mudar, 1995) to better understand how binge and non-binge drinkers may differ in their drinking motives, or reasons for drinking. This model was tested cross-sectionally and longitudinally using a sample of adolescents who may be considered at high risk for problem behaviors. Participants were 772 11th and 12th graders (59% female; 79% white) in a longitudinal study of the social and emotional contexts of adolescent smoking patterns; 430 of whom (55% female) met criteria as binge drinkers. Two sets of nested structural models were tested using path analysis for four groups created based upon gender and binge status (female binge drinkers, female non-binge drinkers, male binge drinkers, and male non-binge drinkers) and included five exogenous variables (depression, anxiety, novelty seeking, friend support, and problem-behavior network) and four endogenous variables (coping, enhancement, and social motives and alcohol-related problems). The first set examined cross-sectional, structural relations among model variables, and the second set examined the same variables longitudinally in which 15-month exogenous variables were entered predicting 24-month drinking motives and alcohol-related problems. Two models were tested for each group: one positing full mediation by drinking motives (i.e., the hypothesized cross-sectional/ longitudinal model) and the other allowing for estimation of direct paths suggested by AMOS modification indices to improve overall model fit. Multi-group analyses were conducted to determine significant differences between binge and non-binge drinkers for each gender. Finally, a series of moderated-mediation analyses were conducted to examine each drinking motive separately using bootstrap mediation techniques and multi-group analyses in AMOS to better explore significant differences in drinking motives between binge and non-binge drinkers. Overall, the current study found that depression, anxiety, novelty seeking, and socializing with a problem-behavior network was associated with alcohol-related problems both directly and indirectly via drinking motives, with some antecedents (i.e., anxiety, novelty seeking, and problem-behavior network) being associated with more than one drinking motive. There were also significant differences between binge and non-binge drinkers, as well as between males and females. Specifically, depression was indirectly related to alcohol-related problems via coping motives for non-binge drinkers, whereas anxiety was indirectly related to alcohol-related problems via coping motives for binge drinkers. In addition, the relationship between associating with a problem-behavior network and alcohol-related problems was mediated by social motives for all females but only for binge-drinking males. Finally, the meditational role of enhancement motives between novelty seeking and alcohol-related problems was found for all groups, regardless of binge status and gender. These results suggest that future interventions for adolescent drinking should be sure to incorporate strategies based upon each drinking motivation.