Perfectionism and self-medication as mediators of the links between parenting styles and drinking outcomes

J. A. Patock-Peckham, W. R. Corbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Perfectionism reflects unreasonably high expectations for oneself that are rarely obtainable leading to negative affect. The self-medication model suggests that alcohol consumption is negatively reinforced and subsequently escalated due to reductions in negative affect when drinking (Hersh & Hussong, 2009). Wang (2010) found that parents directly influence perfectionism levels. Parents have also been found to indirectly influence alcohol-related problems (Patock-Peckham & Morgan-Lopez, 2006, 2009). The current study sought to examine the indirect effects of parenting on alcohol-related problems and alcohol use quantity/frequency through perfectionism dimensions, (i.e. order, discrepancy, and high standards) depression, and self-medication motives for drinking. We hypothesized that more critical parenting and perfectionism discrepancy would be associated with heavier drinking by increasing depressive symptoms and promoting drinking for negative reinforcement. Method: A structural equation model with 419 university volunteers was utilized to test our mediational hypotheses. Results: The analyses identified an indirect link between maternal authoritarian parenting and alcohol-related problems operating through perfectionism discrepancy. Higher levels of maternal authoritarian parenting were associated with greater perfectionism discrepancy which contributed to higher levels of depression, and in turn, stronger self-medication motives, as well as more alcohol-related problems. Conclusions: Maternal authoritarian parenting style is directly linked to perfectionism discrepancy along the self-medication pathway to alcohol-related problems. Our results suggest that the reduction of perfectionism discrepancy may be a good therapeutic target for depression as well as inform the development of parent or individual based prevention efforts to reduce risk for alcohol-related problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100218
JournalAddictive Behaviors Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Alcohol use
  • Alcohol-related problems
  • Coping motives
  • Depression
  • Parenting styles
  • Perfectionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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