Explicit drinking identity and alcohol problems: The mediating role of drinking to cope

Angelo M. DiBello, Mary Beth Miller, Chelsie M. Young, Clayton Neighbors, Kristen P. Lindgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Drinking identity, or the tendency to view one's self as a drinker, is a unique predictor of alcohol use and related consequences among young adults; yet the mechanism by which it leads to alcohol problems is poorly understood. Based on self-presentation and self-verification perspectives, we examined drinking to cope as a mediator of the association between explicit drinking identity and alcohol-related problems among two samples of young adults. Study data come from two large, longitudinal studies. Participants from Sample 1 and Sample 2 included undergraduates (55% and 59% female, respectively) who reported drinking in the previous three months. Tests of the indirect effects indicated that 3-month drinking to cope significantly mediated the positive association between baseline drinking identity and 6-month alcohol-related problems in both samples. In contrast, 3-month drinking identity did not mediate the association between baseline drinking to cope and 6-month alcohol-related problems. Findings indicate that individuals with a stronger drinking identity are more likely to use alcohol to cope and, subsequently, experience more problems. Thus, drinking identity may be an important intervention target for college students as it appears to temporally proceed drinking to cope in the prediction of alcohol-related problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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