The goal of this study is to identify risk and vulnerability mechanisms for alcohol-related problems among college students. Use of alcohol increases the potential for a broad range of psychosocial problems. Research indicates both common and divergent risk mechanisms for alcohol use versus use-related problems. This project aims to examine the association of six risk variables (social norms, impulsivity, affect lability, family history of alcohol problems, alcohol consumption, and perceived utility of alcohol use in achieving personal goals) with alcohol use problems. Two dimensions of use-related problems will be assessed and included as criterion variables: negative consequences and dependency symptoms. This study will explore relationships with a prospective longitudinal design. College students (N=2200) will be recruited through e-mail, announcements in classes and in university print and electronic media, and fliers on campus. Participants will be assessed at two time points separated by a period of six months. All responses will be anonymous and participants will be identified only by a unique self-generated code. Analyses will focus on the subset of students who report using alcohol (85 percent) during the six-month assessment window. Three types of relationships will be examined. The first is an indirect path in which the association between the risk variable and use-related problems is mediated by alcohol consumption. The second is a direct path in which the risk variable contributes to use-related problems independently of alcohol consumption. Third, a vulnerability mechanism will be examined, impulsivity is hypothesized to moderate the relationship between alcohol use and use-related problems and to moderate the relationship between perceived use utility and alcohol use. Indirect, direct, and moderating effects will be determined by a multiple-group SEM. Better understanding of the etiological paths to alcohol use problems may be useful for early identification of individuals at risk for alcohol use problems and may inform the development of effective interventions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-HOP-J (90))
Program Officer
Breslow, Rosalind
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University of South Dakota
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Emery, Noah N; Simons, Jeffrey S (2017) A reinforcement sensitivity model of affective and behavioral dysregulation in marijuana use and associated problems. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 25:281-294
Wray, Tyler B; Simons, Jeffrey S; Dvorak, Robert D et al. (2012) Trait-based affective processes in alcohol-involved ""risk behaviors"". Addict Behav 37:1230-9
Wray, Tyler B; Simons, Jeffrey S; Dvorak, Robert D (2011) Alcohol-related infractions among college students: associations with subsequent drinking as a function of sensitivity to punishment. Psychol Addict Behav 25:352-7
Simons, Jeffrey S; Dvorak, Robert D; Batien, Bryan D et al. (2010) Event-level associations between affect, alcohol intoxication, and acute dependence symptoms: Effects of urgency, self-control, and drinking experience. Addict Behav 35:1045-53
Simons, Jeffrey S; Carey, Kate B; Wills, Thomas A (2009) Alcohol abuse and dependence symptoms: a multidimensional model of common and specific etiology. Psychol Addict Behav 23:415-27
Simons, Jeffrey S; Dvorak, Robert D; Lau-Barraco, Cathy (2009) Behavioral inhibition and activation systems: differences in substance use expectancy organization and activation in memory. Psychol Addict Behav 23:315-28
Gustin, Jessica L; Simons, Jeffrey S (2008) Perceptions of level of intoxication and risk related to drinking and driving. Addict Behav 33:605-15
Simons, Jeffrey S; Dvorak, Robert D; Batien, Bryan D (2008) Methamphetamine use in a rural college population: associations with marijuana use, sensitivity to punishment, and sensitivity to reward. Psychol Addict Behav 22:444-9
Gaher, Raluca M; Simons, Jeffrey S (2007) Evaluations and expectancies of alcohol and marijuana problems among college students. Psychol Addict Behav 21:545-54
Neal, Dan J; Simons, Jeffrey S (2007) Inference in regression models of heavily skewed alcohol use data: a comparison of ordinary least squares, generalized linear models, and bootstrap resampling. Psychol Addict Behav 21:441-52

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