Social Anxiety and Motives for Alcohol Use Among Adolescents

Heidemarie Blumenthal, Ellen W. Leen-Feldner, Jamie L. Frala, Christal L. Badour, Lindsay S. Ham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Social anxiety evidences significant comorbidity with alcohol use disorders and alcohol-related problems. In an effort to better understand this co-occurrence, researchers are beginning to evaluate specific drinking-related factors, including alcohol use motives, among socially anxious individuals. Drawing on Cooper's (1994) 4-factor model of drinking motives (enhancement, social, conformity, coping), a growing body of work suggests that socially anxious individuals may consume alcohol in an effort to cope with their anxious symptoms; however, no study to date has examined these relations among youth. Accordingly, we examined alcohol use motives as a function of social anxiety in a community-based sample of 50 adolescents ages 12 to 17 years (Mage = 16.35, SD = 1.10). As predicted, heightened social anxiety was associated with elevated coping-related drinking motives. More important, other alcohol-use motives did not vary as a function of social anxiety. Collectively, these findings uniquely extend research conducted with adults, and suggest socially anxious youth may be motivated to use alcohol to manage their anxious arousal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-534
Number of pages6
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol use motives
  • Social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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