Depressive Symptoms and Drinking to Cope in Relation to Alcohol Use Outcomes among White and Black/African American College Students

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Prior research shows that Black/African American adults experience more negative alcohol use consequences than White adults, despite lower alcohol consumption. Research also shows that Black/African Americans experience higher rates of depression, which can increase risk for alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder (AUD) through drinking to cope. We examined associations between depressive symptoms and drinking to cope with alcohol consumption and AUD symptoms among White and Black/African American college students. METHODS: Participants completed an online survey during the fall and spring semester of their first year of college (N = 2,168, 62.8% female, 75.8% White). Path analyses were conducted to examine whether depressive symptoms and drinking to cope mediated the association between race/ethnicity and alcohol use outcomes, and whether race/ethnicity moderated the associations between depressive symptoms, drinking to cope, and alcohol use outcomes. RESULTS: Results indicated that Black/African Americans had lower levels of depressive symptoms, which were associated with lower drinking to cope, and in turn associated with lower alcohol consumption and AUD symptoms. Multigroup analysis indicated that the pattern of associations between depressive symptoms, drinking to cope, and alcohol use outcomes were largely similar between White and Black/African American college students and between males and females, except that the association between depressive symptoms and drinking to cope appeared to be stronger for Whites than for Black/African American students. CONCLUSION: Depressive symptoms and drinking to cope are risk factors in relation to alcohol use outcomes among White and Black/African American college students and partially account for the link between race/ethnicity and alcohol use outcomes. Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2022.2034871 .

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-718
Number of pages11
JournalSubstance use & misuse
Volume57
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • alcohol use
  • alcohol use disorder
  • college
  • Depression
  • drinking to cope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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