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Past research has reported that college students use alcohol to manage their negative affective experiences. However, this finding is somewhat mixed in mood induction studies, and it is also unclear which students are most vulnerable to drinking for these reasons. The current study examined the roles of child/adolescent trauma exposure with emphasis on early sexual abuse and emotion regulation difficulties on college students’ alcohol-related tension reduction expectancies during a mood induction paradigm. Participants were randomly assigned to an experimentally induced negative or neutral mood condition with questionnaire batteries completed pre- and postinduction. Primary results were based on participants reporting exposure to at least one traumatic event (n = 134). Findings indicated that participants in the negative compared to the neutral mood condition reported heightened tension reduction expectancies; this was particularly salient as exposure to child/adolescent sexual abuse increased. A trend (p = .08) suggested that tension reduction expectancies were higher for participants in the negative mood condition, as reports of sexual abuse and emotion regulation difficulties increased, and after accounting for posttraumatic stress symptoms. Tension reduction expectancies as a risk factor for problem drinking following trauma exposure are discussed, and further, indications that risk for problem drinking following sexual abuse is associated with difficulties managing typical, rather than extreme levels of negative affect are emphasized. Clinical implications include the potential modification of brief alcohol interventions.