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 Newton, Kenneth S Kendler, Jon Heron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: 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. 
Method: At age 17, participants (n= 3,957; 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.
Results: 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. 
Conclusions: Coping motives for drinking vary with individual and family factors. Adolescents from low versus high socio-economic backgrounds were characterized 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
Early online date30 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • alcohol
  • drinking motives
  • drinking to cope
  • anxiety
  • depression


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