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

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

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

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