High-risk drinking is the number one public health concern on college campuses (Berkowitz, 2003; Kapner, 2003; Wechsler, 2002). To date, high-risk drinking prevention programs have met with limited success (Kapner, 2003).
This study examined differences among four drinking behavior groups: non-drinkers [(ND), (n = 128)], low-risk drinkers [(LRD), (n = 252)], high-risk drinkers [(HRD), (n = 272)], and frequent high-risk drinkers [(FHRD), (n = 290)] with respect to anxiety and depression for male (n = 457) and female (n = 485) undergraduates (N = 942) attending an urban private university in the northeastern United States; and, the perceptions of two undergraduate focus groups (N = 10) and one faculty/staff group (N = 14) for why undergraduates engage in high-risk drinking and actions to reduce this behavior.
Volunteer participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Beck Depression Inventory. An ANOVA indicated differences among the groups with respect to anxiety (F = 6.49, p < .001), but not with respect to depression. The FHRD group had higher anxiety (M = .68) than the ND group (M = .33) and the LRD group (M = .44). A t-test indicated differences (p < .01) in the level of anxiety between HRD females (M = .69) and HRD males (M = .40), with no differences for depression. A chi-square analysis indicated differences between males and females with respect to drinking behavior group classification (χ² = 22.40, df = 3, p = .001).
Focus group results suggested several reasons why students engage in high-risk drinking: it is the norm, easy access to alcohol, low accountability for drinking, cope with anxiety, relieve boredom, lift depression, cope with anger, family history of alcohol use, alcohol dependence, and poor self-esteem. Implications for educators are discussed.
Vohs, C., Gable, R., Ward, C., et al. (2008). Anxiety and depression as comorbid factors in drinking behaviors of undergraduate college students attending an urban private university in the northeastern United States. Paper presented at the Northeast Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Rocky Hill, CT.
Vohs, Charles J.; Gable, Robert K.; Ward, Cynthia V.L.; Martel, Ronald L.; Barresi, Joseph; and Slocumb, Dameian, "Anxiety and Depression as Comorbid Factors in Drinking Behaviors of Undergraduate College Students Attending an Urban Private University in the Northeastern United States" (2008). Higher Education. 3.