Motives for Alcohol Use

Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered “study drugs”, cigarette smoking, vaping, MDMA, and painkillers. However, the most common substance used on college campuses, by far, is alcohol.

Alcohol is just about everywhere – grocery stores, restaurants, sporting events, live shows, TV shows and movies, advertisements, the list goes on. As soon as you’re 21, it’s assumed you’ve at least tried alcohol. On college campuses, alcohol use is popular although it’s usually prohibited. Previously we’ve covered making informed choices concerning alcohol, myths about alcohol, and the effects of binge drinking, but have you ever asked yourself why you use alcohol?

Research has indicated four motives of alcohol use among college students: social, enhancement, conformity, and coping. Social motives include “liquid courage” and the way alcohol can make you feel more friendly and fun around others. Drinking for the effect of intoxication (getting drunk) is the enhancement motive and drinking to fit in with others is the conformity motive. Lastly, the coping motive is drinking to feel better, either physically or mentally.

All of these motives have been linked to either drinking more frequently, drinking higher amounts, or more alcohol-related problems, like driving under the influence or academic problems. While you may ultimately be faced with the decision to either drink or not to drink – it’s important to ask yourself why you’re drinking so you can be aware of the consequences and monitor your own use of alcohol. Lastly, while alcohol use is the norm for most individuals over 21, it doesn’t have to be your norm – do what is best for you.

If you or someone you care about are struggling with alcohol use, please reach out to the Counseling Center or call the 24-hour Crisis Line at (206) 461-3222.

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