A Longitudinal Examination of Different Etiological Pathways to Alcohol Use and Misuse

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Sher, Grekin, and Williams (2005) pointed out the existence of 4 main etiological, but not mutually exclusive, models that might explain the development of alcohol use and misuse. The aim of the present study was to explore 3 of these 4 pathways in which psychological (personality and drinking motives) and environmental (child maltreatment) variables may play a relevant role: positive affect regulation, negative affect regulation, and deviance proneness.


Three hundred and fourteen young adults in the 18 to 29 year age range completed different personality, alcohol use, and child maltreatment questionnaires at Time 1. Five years later, they responded to drinking motives, antisocial behavior, alcohol use, and alcohol-related problems questionnaires.


The path analyses showed that emotional abuse predicted negative emotionality, which, in turn, prospectively predicted alcohol-related problems through coping-with-depression drinking motives (negative affect regulation). Emotional neglect predicted lesser positive emotionality, and physical abuse predicted unconscientious disinhibition personality characteristics. In turn, these 2 broad personality domains predicted drinking at weekends at Time 2 through enhancement drinking motives (positive affect regulation). Finally, physical neglect predicted disagreeable disinhibition, and both disinhibition domains directly predicted antisocial behavior 5 years later which, in turn, predicted drinking at weekends, drinking on weekdays, and alcohol-related problems (deviance proneness).


The findings describe the specific role of distal (maltreatment and personality) and more proximal (antisocial behavior and drinking motives) variables in the different pathways involved in the development of alcohol use and misuse.

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