Theory and empirical findings have linked stress exposure to young adult alcohol misuse, but the processes underlying this association have not been fully investigated. This study examined gender differences in the indirect pathways linking stress in developmentally relevant domains to alcohol misuse in young adults, focusing on drinking motives as a possible mediator of the association. The longitudinal associations between adolescent heavy drinking and young adult stress were also explored. Participants were rural young adults who had been surveyed previously in adolescence (N = 442; 55.7% female; 96% White; Mage = 23.29, SD = 1.07). Chronic stress and drinking motives were concurrently associated with young adult alcohol misuse. For men, occupational stress was indirectly related to alcohol misuse through both social and coping motives for drinking, whereas for women relationship stress was indirectly related to alcohol misuse through social motives only. When investigating the longitudinal effects of adolescent drunkenness, more frequent drunkenness in adolescence was related to more adult occupational stress for men but to neither kind of stress for women. These findings indicate that stress in specific life domains is related to young adult alcohol misuse through drinking motives, that the link between stress and alcohol misuse may be bidirectional for men, and that different stressors and drinking motives are salient for young adult men and women.
- Alcohol use
- Drinking motives
- Early adulthood
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)