Social Anxiety and Alcohol-Related Outcomes: The Mediating Role of Drinking Context and Protective Strategies
Purpose: Students with social anxiety are vulnerable to hazardous drinking patterns due to their social evaluative fears and tendency to perceive alcohol use as a socially-approved, normative behavior. These students do not drink as often as their peers, yet they experience more alcohol-related consequences. Thus, it is important to identify specific anxiety-provoking drinking contexts that trigger these students to engage in hazardous episodic drinking. These students are also less likely to seek treatment for mental health or substance use issues, pointing to the importance of examining their use of protective strategies, particularly in those anxiety-provoking contexts. Evidence supports the unique roles of drinking context and protective strategies as influencing the link between social anxiety and alcohol-related outcomes. Therefore, the current study tested the unique and synergistic effects of drinking context and protective strategies on the social anxiety-alcohol outcomes relationship.
Materials and methods: Data from 678 traditional-aged college students were collected via measures assessing social anxiety symptoms, drinking contexts, and safe and risky drinking behaviors.
Results: Mediation analyses indicated that negative coping drinking contexts and serious harm reduction protective strategies independently mediated the link between interaction social anxiety and hazardous drinking, and between social anxiety and alcohol-related consequences, respectively. Further, negative coping drinking contexts and serious harm reduction strategies sequentially mediated the positive association between interaction social anxiety and alcohol-related consequences.
Conclusions: There appears to be a complex interplay of cognitive, social, and environmental factors making students with social interaction fears more susceptible to alcohol-related harm and less focused on using safe drinking strategies. Implications and directions for future research are outlined.
Addiction Research & Theory
Villarosa-Hurlocker, M. C.,
Madson, M. B.,
Mohn, R. S.,
Nicholson, B. C.
(2018). Social Anxiety and Alcohol-Related Outcomes: The Mediating Role of Drinking Context and Protective Strategies. Addiction Research & Theory, 26(5), 396-404.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/15510