The Association Between Social Adversity and Alcohol Consumption Is Moderated by Social Support

Chris Segrin, R. Amanda Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The self-medication model predicts that people consume alcohol to manage problems with social relationships and negative affect. The social support buffering model predicts that the availability of social support should weaken the association between various forms of stress and alcohol consumption as a means of coping with distress. The objective of this research was to test associations between five different forms of social adversity (discrimination and family conflict in Study 1 and daily hassles, social isolation, and interpersonal violence in Studies 2 and 3) and alcohol consumption and whether that association was moderated by social support. Studies 1 (N = 773) and 2 (N = 291) tested these hypotheses in national surveys of adults who drank alcohol at least once in the past year. Results showed that all five forms of social adversity were positively associated with alcohol consumption. Social support was a consistent moderator of this association, but in the opposite direction as predicted by the buffering model. In these samples, the association between social adversity and alcohol consumption was highest under conditions of the highest social support. Study 3 (N = 389) was a longitudinal study that replicated the paradoxical moderation by social support prospectively, but in only one of the six models tested. There is a robust concurrent association between social adversity and alcohol consumption, but social support does not lessen this relationship, as predicted by the buffering model

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-294
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Stress Management
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Self-medication
  • Social support
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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