Drinking to cope: a latent class analysis of coping motives for alcohol use in a large cohort of adolescents

Lexine A. Stapinski*, Alexis C. Edwards, Matthew Hickman, Ricardo Araya, Maree Teesson, Nicola C. Newton, Kenneth S. Kendler, Jon Heron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Alcohol consumption during adolescence is widespread, although there is considerable variation in patterns of use. The aim of this study was to identify patterns of coping-motivated alcohol use in a UK birth cohort and examine individual and family characteristics associated with the resulting drinker profiles. At age 17, participants (n = 3957; 56 % female) reported their alcohol and drug use, internalising symptoms and use of alcohol to cope with a range of emotions. Socio-demographic data were collected via maternal report. Latent class analysis identified drinker subtypes based on the coping motives reported. Association between these profiles and socio-demographic characteristics and internalising disorders was examined. The vast majority (92 %) of adolescents reported alcohol consumption in the past year, and 26 % of those drank weekly or more often. Four distinct motive profiles were identified. These profiles were associated with different socio-demographic characteristics: adolescents from higher socio-economic backgrounds drank primarily for increased confidence, whereas adolescents from low socio-economic backgrounds were more likely to drink to cope with low mood. Adolescents with an anxiety or depressive disorder were six times more likely to fall within the high-risk subtype, characterised by a generalised pattern of drinking to cope with emotions across the board. Coping motives for drinking vary with individual and family factors. Adolescents from low versus high socio-economic backgrounds were characterised by distinct drinking profiles; thus, prevention messages may need to be tailored accordingly. Internalising disorders were strongly associated with a high-risk profile of coping-motivated drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-594
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drinking motives
  • Drinking to cope


Dive into the research topics of 'Drinking to cope: a latent class analysis of coping motives for alcohol use in a large cohort of adolescents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this