Disinhibition and the self-medication model of alcohol use
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Self-medication model of alcohol use has received extensive attention; however, previous studies demonstrated mixed support for this model. Examining moderating effects of personality may help elucidate the self-medicating processes. Given that disinhibited personality has been consistently linked to alcohol use, the current study examined the exposure-reactivity model of disinhibited personality in the context of the self-medication model of alcohol use among college students. Gender differences were also investigated. The current study utilized measures of social and academic stressful events, negative affect/sad mood, and alcohol use collected longitudinally (weekly, monthly) over the course of one year in a large university sample of freshmen. The results of sophisticated structural equation modeling techniques provided little support for the self-medication theory among college students. While stressful events prospectively predicted negative affect, neither negative affect nor sad mood prospectively predicted levels of alcohol consumption. Modest evidence for the reverse prospective effect of alcohol use on negative affect was observed. Overall, trait sad mood and alcohol use as well as trait social stressors and alcohol use were negatively related. Thus, the importance of considering context when studying college drinking is discussed. No evidence for the exposure-reactivity effects of disinhibition on the models was found. Gender moderation was overall minimal and was detected only in one of the models, such that females tended to report high levels of sad mood following elevation in stressful academic events, whereas males tended to report high number of stressful academic events following high levels of sad mood. The findings should be viewed in light of several limitations, such as the sample characteristics, the time lags between assessments, and measurement issues.