Title

Coping Styles Mediate the Association between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Alcohol Outcomes in College Students

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-8-2020

School

Psychology

Abstract

© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Background: College students report high rates of alcohol consumption and Criterion A traumatic events, which puts them at higher risk for dangerous alcohol-related negative consequences when compared to the general population. The self-medication theory suggests coping as the potential link between substance use and psychological distress, and it has been found that ineffective coping styles are related to increased PTSD symptom severity and harmful drinking behaviors. Purpose: This study evaluated the mediating role of coping styles (i.e. problem-solving and avoidance coping) on the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and alcohol outcomes (i.e. hazardous drinking and alcohol-related negative consequences [ARNC]). Methods: A national sample of 672 traditional age (i.e. 18–25 years old; M = 22.35, SD = 1.97) college students who reported alcohol consumption in the past month were recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website. Participants were 55.1% male and 60.9% White and completed measures of PTSD symptoms, coping styles, hazardous drinking, and ARNC. Results: Problem-solving coping mediated the positive relationship between PTSD symptoms and hazardous drinking such that PTSD symptoms were negatively associated with problem-solving coping, which was negatively associated with hazardous drinking. Avoidance coping mediated the positive relationship between PTSD symptoms and ARNC through a positive association between PTSD symptoms and avoidance coping. Conclusions: These novel findings highlight the importance of adaptive coping styles as a protective factor for college students experiencing co-occurring PTSD symptoms and harmful alcohol use.

Publication Title

Substance Use and Misuse

Volume

55

Issue

14

First Page

2371

Last Page

2378

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