Putting things in context: Longitudinal relations between drinking contexts, drinking motives, and negative alcohol consequences.

Jack T. Waddell, William R. Corbin, Shane D. Marohnic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Recent studies suggest that solitary (but not social) drinking may confer risk for negative alcohol consequences via beliefs about alcohol’s ability to reduce tension, and explicit motivations to drink to cope with negative mood states. However, because prior studies are largely cross-sectional, it is unclear if tension reduction expectancies and drinking to cope are antecedents or consequences of solitary drinking. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature using prospective data (3 waves across 12 months) from a sample of moderate to heavy drinking young adults. Data were drawn from a larger investigation of contextual influences on subjective alcohol response. Participants (N = 448) reported on alcohol use in multiple drinking contexts and tension reduction expectancies at baseline (T1), drinking motives at a 6-month follow-up (T2), and past-month negative alcohol consequences at a 12-month follow-up (T3). We examined potential indirect effects of drinking contexts on negative consequences operating through alcohol expectancies and drinking motives. Solitary drinking was indirectly associated with later negative consequences through stronger coping motives, although tension reduction expectancies did not serve as a significant mediator. Social drinking was not directly or indirectly related to later alcohol consequences. Results suggest that solitary drinking contexts confer risk for negative consequences through coping motives, and that these effects are invariant across sex, race, and ethnicity. These findings have important clinical implications as they suggest that targeting solitary drinkers for skills-based coping interventions may reduce risk for a developmental trajectory toward negative alcohol consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-159
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • alcohol consequences
  • coping motives
  • solitary drinking
  • tension reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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