Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – Drinking Motives Predict Harmful and Safe Drinking Behaviors among College Student-Athletes

Name: Anastasija Cobanovic

Drinking Motives Predict Harmful and Safe Drinking Behaviors among College Student-Athletes

Among College Students

student drinking is a serious public health concern because
approximately 65 percent of students in college drink alcohol every
month. On average, college students drink more than five drinks per
night without knowing the norms of serving size (Devos-Comby &
Lange, 2008; Kerr & Stockwell 2012). Students who report getting
drunk have a high chance of experiencing alcohol-related negative
consequences (ARNC), which include injuries, sexual assault, physical
assault, unsafe sex, drunk driving, memory loss, and even death
(Hingson, Zha, & Weitzman, 2009). Student-athletes may be at an
increased risk for ARNC, as they are more likely to drink than their
non-athlete peers (White & Hingson, 2009). Protective behavioral
strategies (PBS) have emerged as one factor that might help college
students reduce hazardous drinking and ARNC. These are different
strategies students can use to reduce the harm of alcohol consumption
(Wechsler, Dowdall, Davenport, & Castillo, 1995). The purpose of
this study is to reflect on past research, as well as to find the
gaps for future studies by comparing general student population to
student-athlete binge drinking.

College Drinking

show that binge drinking continues to cause serious negative
consequences. Over the past years, driving while intoxicated (DWI),
number of assaults by another student, victims of sexual assault or
rape, and alcohol-related deaths have increased since 1998 (National
Institutes of Health, 2007). Students who begin drinking before the
age of 19 are more likely to be alcohol dependent and to continue to
drink heavily in the future. They tend to have greater ARNC as they
do not use strategies to escape consequences, they more likely to
report intoxicated driving, riding with someone who is intoxicated,
and drink until the point when they need medical attention (National
Institutes of Health, 2007). The number of intoxicated drivers
increased by half a million, while the number of alcohol-related
deaths increased by 6% from 1998 until 2001 (National Institute of
Health, 2007). Research shows that people age 18-24 are more likely
to engage in heavy episodic or binge drinking if they are college
students, rather than the ones who do not attend college (Dawson,
Grant, & Stinson, 2004; SAMSHA, 2015). College setting could be
the main reason why students drink so heavily. Research shows that
students tend to binge drink when they have easily accessible alcohol
or “wet” environments, such as campus (SAMSHA, 2015). Some
research shows that current college students were less likely to
drink in high school, whereas in college they drink heavily
(Timberlake, et al., 2007).

episodic drinking is the main problem when college students drink.
Based on the article from 2015, 58% reported use of alcohol in the
past year and 37.9% reported binge drinking among college students,
age 18 to 22 (SAMSHA, 2015). Research has shown that students who
binge drink several times during a two-week period are three times
more likely to have troubles understanding class material, have lower
academic performance, skip classes, experience blackouts, and get in
trouble (Wechsler, Lee, Kuo, & Lee, 2000). The data from 2005 to
2011 shows that on average 7% of female students and 24% of male
students tend to drink ten or more drinks per night, compared to 7%
of female and 18% of male non-college students (White & Hingson,
2009). However, based on
Health is Essential to Health
it shows that gender gap became closer since 2004 where drinking
among female students has increased, while among males has decreased
(SAMSHA, 2015). Ages eighteen to twenty-five is the critical age of
drinking, but in a college setting, people exceed the norms.
Approximately 25% of students report the experience of negative
consequences related to alcohol drinking in a school setting;
students miss classes, poor test scores, and lower test grades (Engs,
Diebold, & Hanson, 1996). Alcohol blackouts are periods of
amnesia or memory loss when the brain is unable to memorize current
events but still remembers the events before alcohol consumption.
Students can walk, talk, interact with others, have sexual
intercourse, and have a fight while having a blackout (Goodwin,
1995). Students who seek and crave alcohol the most do not want to
attend alcohol interventions (NIAAA, 2007). However, to decrease the
percentage of harm, researchers use different protective analysis. 

findings show that on average 1,400 college students are killed each
year, and around half a million students are injured the same year
due to alcohol consumption (Hingson, Heeren, Zakocs, Kopstein, &
Wechsler, 2002). In order to decrease the negative consequences and
excessive drinking, researchers suggest protective behavioral
strategies (PBS). The sample size for this study included 556 college
students, with a median age of 21. Half of the participants were
female (55%) and mostly Caucasian (84%). Researchers were interested
to see how many times a student uses PBS strategy to avoid ARNC. They
wanted to see if students use a designated driver, if they eat before
or during consumption, if they set the limit of drinks per night,
have a friend to tell them when to stop, and others. Participants who
joined the study had to have experience related to PBS and experience
ARNC in past 12 months. In the result section, researchers find out
that 4.1% of participants experienced someone using force on them or
being raped, to 48.2% of students who did an action they regret
sober. However, the PBS data ranged from 36.9% of students who drink
alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks together to 92.3% of students who
eat before or while they drink (Martens, Taylor, Damann, Page, Mowry,
& Cimini, 2004). Alcohol consumption is also related to the type
of friends’ students have.

Alcohol Use

factors influence student-athletes to drink, mostly their teammates.
The data from 2013 shows that 81% of student-athletes consumed
alcohol in a given year, whereas 44% of males and 33% of females
reported heavy drinking (Massengale, Ma, Rulison, Milroy, &
Wyrick, 2017; Pitts, Chow, & Donohue, 2019). The purpose of
Massengale’s and colleagues’ (2017) experiment was to understand
the friendship patterns of drinking, what type of friends’
student-athletes choose, and if these friends influence them
positively or negatively. This study included 2,622 student-athletes,
who were eighteen or nineteen years old. There were more female
participants (53%) and 47% of males. In order to gather the
information, researchers asked questions about student’s best
friends’, if they are in the same year of college, and if they are
student-athletes. A little bit less than half of the participants
answered they hang out with student-athletes who are the same year as
them, as well as hanging out with their teammates. The purpose of
this study was to understand what type of friends influence their
peers, but also to establish the importance of older teammates as
they should be the leaders of the team they participate in
(Massengale et al., 2017). 

student-athletes experience more consequences than a regular student.
The data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
suggests that student-athletes are at high risk of alcohol
consumption, compared to their non-athlete friends (Martens,
Dams-O’Connor, & Beck, 2006). Alcohol consumption has effects
on concentration, dehydration, increased blood pressure on everyone,
but student-athletes also have increased chances of injuries, longer
recoveries from injuries, and poor performance (Murphy, Snape,
Minett, Skein, & Duffield, 2012). For this study, 3,932
student-athletes participated in an online program
myPlaybook. Students
were required to answer yes/no questions related to drinking alcohol.
Students who said they had alcohol needed to explain why they drink,
and vice versa. On average, students responded to drinking as a
reason to get drunk, while others said they were too young to drink
yet. The differences in results were related to gender, race, and
NCAA division. The best division is Division I, followed by Division
II and III. Males tend to have more fun, meet new people, relax, or
have nothing to do compared to females. Whereas, females reported
drinking more because of ending the season, celebrating the matches,
or not being in a season. Based on race, white people tend to drink
way more than black. However, NCAA Division II and III tend to drink
more than Division I student-athletes. However, student-athletes who
play for a Division III college drink significantly more than the
other two divisions (Milroy, Orsini, Wyrick, Fearnow-Kenny, Kelly, &
Burley, 2014).

drinking motives are unique to the athletic group of people and are
less likely to regular college students. Drinking motives are defined
as individual’s attitude to reach a goal state, depending on their
needs. Drinking motives mainly explain situational context, but they
are also a part of circumstance, location, day of the week, group
size, norms, and residence (Kairouz, Gliksman, Demers, & Adlaf,
2002). Drinking motives are defined in four categories, such as
social, enhancement, coping, and conformity. Social rewards have
positive and external effect and individual’s drink to make certain
environment more fun. Enhancement is for boosting positive mood or
well-being (positive and internal), and individual’s drink because
they like the feeling that alcohol gives them. Coping motive is
associated with negative internal emotions and it is used to forget
negative or stressful things. However, coping can be divided in two
different categories, coping with depression and coping with anxiety.
These two categories do correlate but coping with depression shows
more predictive negative outcomes (Vernig, & Orsillo, 2015).
Lastly, conformity is a negative external category used for social
rejection avoidance or to fit in (
Knibbe, Gmel, & Engels, 2005).
use and alcohol expectancies are highly associated with drinking
motives (Cronin, 1997). In the article
do Young People Drink? A Review of Drinking Motives,

it is found that people mostly use social motives, followed by
enhancement, while a few of the individuals used coping motives.
Also, it is found that social motives are associated with moderate
alcohol use, enhancement is associated with heavy drinking, and
coping with alcohol-related negative consequences (
et al., 2005).
In the article,
Drinking Motives as Mediators of
Social Anxiety and Hazardous Drinking Among College Students
the authors found that social anxiety (SA) is positively correlated
with all drinking motives and that drinking motives are correlated
with all hazardous drinking (Ham, Zamboanga, Bacon, & Garcisa,
2009). Also, they found that coping motives mediated the relationship
between SA and drinking consequences, as well as dependence symptoms
(Ham et al., 2009).

the student-athlete study, 721 female softball students that
participate in all three divisions were required to do a survey
(Pitts et al., 2019). Researchers used an index scale to test
student’s alcohol-related negative consequences. This scale is
called Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index (RAPI), which has 23-point
measure scale (from academic performance to other general
consequences) which has an accurate measure of ARNC (White &
Labouvie, 1989). Researchers also wanted to find out if the reasons
for drinking are social (party), enhancement (the feeling you have
while drinking), conformity (peer pressure), and coping (due to
stress or negative feelings). After conducting the results for this
study, social factors were the highest reasons why student-athletes
drink, followed by enhancement. Again, as in previous studies,
division III participants showed the highest alcohol drinking rate.
Out of 721 female players, 490 of them drank alcohol at least once in
the last 30 days, while 368 of them experienced heavy alcohol
consumption in the last 30 days. In this case, positive reinforcement
was a reason for drinking, rather than a negative. However, athletes
who drink alone are more likely to develop stronger alcohol use, as
well as to experience negative consequences (Pitts et al., 2019).
Researchers still lack some information regarding general and
student-athlete college drinking.


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