Drinking to Cope: a Latent Class Analysis of Coping Motives for Alcohol Use in a Large Cohort of Adolescents
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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.
KeywordsAlcohol Drinking motives Drinking to cope Anxiety Depression
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