Alcohol Use and Social Anxiety in a College Student Population
Type of DegreeThesis
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The results of epidemiological studies using clinical and community samples have shown a strong link between social anxiety and alcohol use. However, the results of studies that use a college student population to investigate a possible link between social anxiety and alcohol use have yielded mixed findings. Given the inconsistencies in the college student literature, several researchers have looked for variables that may moderate between social anxiety and alcohol use and related problems. The present study examined the potential moderating effects of the amount of anxiety reported in various social situations either involving or not involving alcohol using the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (Mattick & Clarke, 1998). The first hypothesis for this study was that the difference score should be related to a variety of alcohol measures, including alcohol-related problems, quantity of alcohol consumed, and frequency of alcohol consumption. A positive difference score, which indicated greater anxiety in alcohol-free situations than in alcohol-related situations, should be positively correlated with both the RAPI (White & Labouvie, 1989) and the DDQ (Collins et al., 1985). The second hypothesis was that the relationship between the difference score and the alcohol measures would partially depend on the symptoms of social phobia. Participants with a positive difference score and a high score on a measure of social phobia should report the highest levels of alcohol use and problems. From the results, we concluded that the difference in anxiety in alcohol-related situations and anxiety in alcohol-free situations as measured in the present study does not seem to impact quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption in a college sample or their reported alcohol problems. The findings presented in the current paper also suggest that the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption appears to be fairly stable across levels of social anxiety; however, individuals with social phobia may be more vulnerable to alcohol-related problems or more likely to report these types of problems. While the present study did not find the moderator effects that we had anticipated with the difference score calculated from the anxiety in alcohol-related situations and anxiety in alcohol-free situations, the correlation between social phobia and the alcohol-related problems and the implications of this relationship may provide directions for future research.