Negative-reinforcement drinking motives mediate the relation between anxiety sensitivity and increased drinking behavior
We examined whether certain “risky” drinking motives mediate the previously established relation between elevated anxiety sensitivity (AS) and increased drinking behavior in college student drinkers (n=109 women, 73 men). Specifically, we administered the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI), Revised Drinking Motives Questionnaire, and a quantity-frequency measure of typical drinking levels. Participants were parceled according to high (n=30), moderate (n=29), and low (n=34) AS levels. As expected, high AS participants reported a higher typical weekly drinking frequency than the low and moderate AS students regardless of gender. Similarly, high AS participants (particularly high AS men) reported a higher yearly excessive drinking frequency than low AS students. Only the negative reinforcement motives of Coping and Conformity were found to independently mediate the relations between AS and increased drinking behavior in the total sample. High AS women's greater drinking behavior was largely explained by their elevated Coping Motives, while heightened Conformity Motives explained the increased drinking behavior of high AS men. Finally, associations between AS and increased drinking behavior in university students were largely attributable to the “social concerns” component of the ASI. We discuss the observed relations with respect to the psychological functions of drinking behavior that may portend the development of alcohol problems in young adult high AS men and women.