Date of Award

Summer 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Director

Cathy Lau-Barraco

Committee Member

Matt Henson

Committee Member

Mark Scerbo

Abstract

Recently, the combination of alcohol and caffeine (i.e., caffeinated alcohol) has been growing in popularity among college students. Consumption of caffeinated alcohol has been shown to result in negative consequences (e.g., required medical attention, engaged in driving and sexual risk behaviors). It may be important to investigate the potential risk this may have on students with mental health issues, such as those with anxiety symptoms, as they may already be at heightened risk for substance-related problems. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between anxiety and caffeinated alcohol use in a college student sample. The aims were to: (1) determine the relationship between caffeinated alcohol use and anxiety symptomology; (2) examine anxiety as a moderator of caffeinated alcohol use and alcohol-related problems, risk behaviors (i.e., driving and sexual risks), and other substance use; (3) examine avoidance coping as an mediator in the relationship between anxiety and caffeinated alcohol use and problems; and (4) explore the relationship between anxiety and reasons for consuming caffeinated alcohol. Typical caffeinated alcohol consumers (N = 231; 64.9% female) participated in the present study. Findings indicated that anxiety was unrelated to caffeinated alcohol consumption. Anxiety did not influence the relationship between caffeinated alcohol use and alcohol-related problems, risky behaviors, or smoking. Anxiety moderated the relationship between caffeinated alcohol use and stimulant drug use, such that higher anxiety predicted a negative relationship between caffeinated alcohol use and stimulant drug use. Anxiety also moderated the relationship between caffeinated alcohol use and psychedelic drug use; however, there was no significant association for those higher in anxiety. Avoidance coping explained the relationship between anxiety and caffeinated alcohol use and problems. Anxiety was related to greater likelihood of using caffeinated alcohol for the purposes of (1) feeling more physical vigor and (2) reducing fear, anxiety, or avoidance. Anxiety was related to a reduced likelihood of using caffeinated alcohol because of a taste preference. The general lack of significant findings may suggest a need to focus on potential expectancies, motivations, and context effects that underline caffeinated alcohol use and consequences in the general college student population.

DOI

10.25777/3d5j-h163

ISBN

9781267667816

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