Page last updated: Sep 2020
Why adolescents engage in early alcohol use: A study of drinking motives
Research in the Netherlands looked at the drinking motives among young adolescents shortly after they had initiated alcohol use. The study investigated whether drinking motives were associated with current alcohol use and binge drinking, (2) whether motives predicted alcohol use and binge drinking 6 months later, and (3) whether alcohol use and binge drinking alcohol predict motives 6 months later.
Data on 210 adolescents with an average age of 14 were drawn from a Dutch longitudinal 7-wave family study at the timepoint of alcohol use initiation (t0) and 6 months later (t1). Results indicated that young adolescents mainly drink for social and enhancement motives rather than coping and conformity motives. Shortly after alcohol initiation, social motives were associated with alcohol use at t0 (OR = 1.52), enhancement motives with binge drinking at t0 (OR = 2.35), and coping motives with binge drinking at t0 (OR = 2.62) and at t1 (OR = 3.00). Conformity motives were inversely associated with binge drinking at t0 (OR = 0.42). Binge drinking predicted coping motives at t1 (B = 0.71, SE = -0.35), but no other associations among alcohol use, binge drinking, and drinking motives at t1 were found.
The study indicates that young adolescents drink to enjoy parties and to get drunk (social and enhancement motives) rather than to fit in (conformity motives). The study also indicates that shortly after alcohol initiation, alcohol to cope represents a reciprocal risk factor for binge drinking that may persist in the future, thus pointing to the importance of drinking motives for drinking behaviours among young adolescents.
Source: Smit, K., Voogt, C., Otten, R., Kleinjan, M., & Kuntsche, E. (2020). Why adolescents engage in early alcohol use: A study of drinking motives. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Advance online publication.

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