Alcohol Demand, Future Orientation, and Craving Mediate the Relation Between Depressive and Stress Symptoms and Alcohol Problems


Background: Elevated depression and stress have been linked to greater levels of alcohol problems among young adults even after taking into account drinking level. This study attempts to elucidate variables that might mediate the relation between symptoms of depression and stress and alcohol problems, including alcohol demand, future time orientation, and craving. Methods: Participants were 393 undergraduates (60.8% female, 78.9% White/Caucasian) who reported at least 2 binge-drinking episodes (4/5+ drinks for women/men, respectively) in the previous month. Participants completed self-report measures of stress and depression, alcohol demand, future time orientation, craving, and alcohol problems. Results: In separate mediation models that accounted for gender, race, and weekly alcohol consumption, future orientation and craving significantly mediated the relation between depressive symptoms and alcohol problems. Alcohol demand, future orientation, and craving significantly mediated the relation between stress symptoms and alcohol problems. Conclusions: Heavy-drinking young adults who experience stress or depression are likely to experience alcohol problems, and this is due in part to elevations in craving and alcohol demand, and less sensitivity to future outcomes. Interventions targeting alcohol misuse in young adults with elevated levels of depression and stress should attempt to increase future orientation and decrease craving and alcohol reward value.

Publication Title

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research