Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Psychol Trauma. 2023 January ; 15(1): 110–120. doi:10.1037/tra0001278


HHS Public Access.


Objective.—Women with sexual assault (SA) histories report heavier and more frequent drinking. Consistent with the motivational model of alcohol use, women with SA histories may consume alcohol to both down-regulate negative emotions and up-regulate positive ones. The present event-level study used a Bayesian multilevel moderated mediation approach to examine the extent to which women’s alcohol use and intoxication was influenced by coping and enhancement drinking motives to down-regulate or up-regulate affect, respectively.

Method.—Women ages 21–30 were recruited from the community to participate in a larger study that included a 32-day daily diary assessment of affect, drinking motives, and alcohol use.

Results.—We found consistent support for women’s tendencies to be motivated to drink to cope or enhance negative or positive affect, respectively, and those drinking motives were associated with indicators of increased drinking. Becoming intoxicated to down-regulate negative emotion was common and this pathway was particularly strong for women who reported more severe SA histories. Although women with more severe SA histories were generally more likely to drink more, they were not likely to do so as a way to enhance positive experiences.

Conclusions.—Alcohol interventions that provide adaptive regulatory strategies are needed for women who experience increased negative or positive affect, with a particular focus on self-medication for young women with more severe SA histories.

Included in

Psychology Commons