First-year college women are more likely to experience negative consequences such as blacking out and unwanted sex when they drink heavily. A recent study looked at alcohol use on the event-level to try and investigate the decision-making process when intending to use alcohol.
A sample of 235 first-year college women who had consumed alcohol heavily in the past 30 days were surveyed on their daily drinking behavior and drinking intentions through a mobile app. The study also collected data on the consequences experienced as a result of drinking as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The results showed that on average, the students drank 2.27 out of 14 days and consumed an average of 5 drinks per day and 6 drinks on heavy drinking days. Positive affects of alcohol were likely to increase drinking intentions, while negative affects did not influence drinking intentions. However, positive affects only showed this trend in those who did not have high levels of anxiety. Those who had high levels of anxiety were most likely to have intentions to drink on the day before and the day of heavy drinking, and depressive symptoms showed a similar affect.
This study showed that experiencing positive affects from alcohol can lead to intentions to drink more, which is believed to lead to negative consequences. It also showed that anxiety and depression can increase intentions to drink. This knowledge can be used to identify high-risk populations of college women and intervene with their drinking behaviors to minimize negative consequences.
Take Away: First-year college women with more frequent positive affects from alcohol use are more likely to intend to use alcohol before heavy drinking events, especially if they have low levels of anxiety.
Slaviah, D.C., Scaglione, N.M., Hultgren, B.A., et al. (2018). An Ecological Momentary Assessment of Affect, Mental Health Symptoms, and Decisions to Drink Among First- Year College Women: A Pilot Study. Prevention Science. doi.org/10.1007/s11121-018-0966-6