The Impact of Alcohol-Related Consequences on Alcohol Use Behaviors
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Objectives: Primary objectives of the present study include (1) exploring the impact of alcohol-related consequences on current drinking behaviors, and (2) examining perceptions of consequences and their relationship to current drinking behaviors. Method: Original data collected through online self-report surveys from 579 participants (Mage = 28.0 years) was utilized for the present study. Each participant answered brief questionnaire about their current alcohol use (quantity and frequency) using the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) and follow up questions about their prior alcohol related experiences and subsequent perceptions. Results: There was a significant association between AUDIT scores and prior experiences of alcohol-related consequences χ2(2) =135.7, p < .01. A significant association between AUDIT scores and severity ratings of prior alcohol related consequences, χ2(2) =12.6, p < .01 was also present. The association between AUDIT scores and prior experiences of alcohol-related consequences was maintained for non-college, χ2(2) =79.56, p < .01, and the total sample, χ2(2) =80.49, p < .01. An association was not demonstrated for those currently enrolled in college, χ2(2) =3.02, p =.389. In regard to the potential effect of age on the major associations demonstrated by this study, the results indicated that the association between AUDIT scores and prior experiences of alcohol related consequences was the same for both age groups (e.g., ages 18-25 and ages 26-65), χ2(2) =85.96, p < .01 (ages 18-25), χ2(2) =55.24, p < .01 (ages 26-65). With regard to severity ratings, there was a significant association between AUDIT scores and severity ratings existed amongst individuals ages 18-25, χ2(2) =10.35, p < .01, while the same association did not exist for the 26-65 age group, χ2(2) =4.78, p =.091. Conclusions: The results suggest that people will continue to drink despite negative or punishing consequences relating to their drinking patterns. The results also indicate that people who view alcohol-related consequences to be less severe will demonstrate more harmful current patterns of alcohol consumption, which aligns with the Social Learning Theory tenants of alcohol use. Analyses regarding college status enrollment indicate a need for future research to examine potential differences in drinking behaviors between college students and their age-matched peers who are not currently enrolled. The analyses of age suggest that age, and perhaps life experience and maturity, affect perceptions of aversive drinking occurrences.