"I'll never drink like that again": Characteristics of alcohol-related incidents and predictors of motivation to change in college students


Objective: Alcohol use and its associated behaviors are among the most common reasons for medical treatment and disciplinary infractions among college students. The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of students who had recent serious alcohol-related incidents and to identify predictors of motivation to change alcohol use and heavy drinking in particular, with specific attention to gender. Method: Students (N = 227; 52% female) who had been mandated to attend a session of alcohol education following alcohol-related medical treatment and/or a disciplinary infraction were assessed on their alcohol use, alcohol problems, characteristics of their alcohol-related incident, reactions to the incident, attributions about the incident, and motivation to change drinking and heavy drinking. Path and regression analyses were used to identify the individual and incident-related characteristics that were related to motivation to change. Results: Perceived aversiveness of the incident was directly and positively related to motivation to change drinking and heavy drinking. Alcohol consumption in the month before the incident and past-year alcohol problems were negatively related to motivation to change heavy drinking, and women were more motivated to change heavy drinking than men. The more students consumed in the incident, the more likely they were to feel responsible for it, and the more responsible they felt about the incident, the greater its aversiveness. Conclusions: Individual and incident-related characteristics are both directly and indirectly associated with motivation to change following an alcohol-related incident, and therefore have implications for interventions with college drinkers who have experienced an alcohol-related incident.

Publication Title

Journal of Studies on Alcohol