Solitary and social heavy drinking, suicidal ideation, and drinking motives in underage college drinkers

In college students, solitary heavy drinking (i.e., while alone) is associated with depression and with higher rates of drinking problems than heavy drinking in social contexts. This study explored the relationship among heavy episodic drinking context, suicidal ideation, and drinking motives among underage college drinkers (n = 91) with a history of passive suicidal ideation. Participants completed measures of depression, suicidal ideation, alcohol consumption and problems, and drinking motives. Multiple regression analyses revealed that suicidal ideation, but not depression, was significantly related to solitary heavy drinking. Neither was related to social heavy drinking. Enhancement motives for drinking, but not other drinking motives (i.e., social, conformity, drinking to cope), were significantly associated with social heavy drinking. In contrast, only drinking to cope was associated with solitary heavy drinking. These findings suggest that greater suicidal ideation is associated with greater frequency of becoming intoxicated while alone, and that this drinking is motivated by attempts to cope. Solitary heavy drinking is a potentially dangerous coping strategy for an individual experiencing suicidal ideation.




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