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ABSTRACT Individual differences in social-emotional adjustment, jointly defined by levels of distress and self-restraint, were used to evaluate (a) patterns of alcohol use, (b) reasons for use, and (c) associated problems in two college samples of young adults (N= 287 and N= 215). As hypothesized, low self-restraint was associated with high levels of alcohol use, drinking to increase positive affect, and high levels of alcohol-related problems. Subjective distress was not related to levels of use; however, it was associated with drinking to escape negative moods and social discomfort and with excessive alcohol-related problems. Both high distress and low self-restraint predicted problem drinking beyond what could be accounted for by quantity or frequency of alcohol use or by peers' use. Within Weinberger and Schwartz's (1990) six-group typology, reactive individuals (high distress–low restraint) were especially likely to be problem drinkers, even when compared to groups with equivalent alcohol use. In a separate study, knowledgeable peers' reports validated the differences between reactive and repressive individuals, the two groups most likely to have inaccurate self-reports.