Notably, early onset drinking was also associated with drinking in situations of positive states, e.g., “pleasant times with others.” This is in accordance with stress coping models of addiction proposing that drinking to cope may include both, intentions to reduce negative affect and to increase positive affect (Sinha, 2001).
Drinking Against Unpleasant Emotions: Possible Outcome of Early Onset of Alcohol Use?
Article first published online: 5 APR 2010
Copyright © 2010 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 34, Issue 6, pages 1052–1057, June 2010
How to Cite
Buchmann, A. F., Schmid, B., Blomeyer, D., Zimmermann, U. S., Jennen-Steinmetz, C., Schmidt, M. H., Esser, G., Banaschewski, T., Mann, K. and Laucht, M. (2010), Drinking Against Unpleasant Emotions: Possible Outcome of Early Onset of Alcohol Use?. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 34: 1052–1057. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01180.x
Significant correlation of negative life events with the IDS subscale “unpleasant emotions” was indicated by Spearman’s ρ = 0.31 (p < 0.001).
For more details concerning the assessment of psychopathology, see e.g., Buchmann et al. (2009).
- Issue published online: 25 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 5 APR 2010
- Received for publication July 3, 2009; accepted January 20, 2010.
- Age at First Drink;
- Drinking to Cope;
- Longitudinal Study
Background: Recent animal and human studies indicate that the exposure to alcohol during early adolescence increases the risk for heavy alcohol use in response to stress. The purpose of this study was to examine whether this effect may be the consequence of a higher susceptibility to develop “drinking to cope” motives among early initiators.
Methods: Data from 320 participants were collected as part of the Mannheim Study of Children at Risk, an ongoing epidemiological cohort study. Structured interviews at age 15 and 19 were used to assess age at first alcohol experience and drunkenness. The young adults completed questionnaires to obtain information about the occurrence of stressful life events during the past 4 years and current drinking habits. In addition, alcohol use under conditions of negative states was assessed with the Inventory of Drinking Situations.
Results: The probability of young adults’ alcohol use in situations characterized by unpleasant emotions was significantly increased the earlier they had initiated the use of alcohol, even when controlling for current drinking habits and stressful life events. Similar results were obtained for the age at first drunkenness.
Conclusions: The findings strengthen the hypothesis that alcohol experiences during early adolescence facilitate drinking to regulate negative affect as an adverse coping strategy which may represent the starting point of a vicious circle comprising drinking to relieve stress and increased stress as a consequence of drinking.