Aversive Self-Focus and Alcohol Consumption Behavior in Women with Sexual Identity-Uncertainty: Changes in Salivary Cortisol Stress Response Among Those who Drink-to-Cope
Talley, Amelia E. (TTU)
Harris, Breanna N. (TTU)
Le, Tran H. (TTU)
Hohman, Zachary P. (TTU)
Background: Individuals who report sexual identity-uncertainty are at-risk for heavy alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder symptomology. The current study examined the impact of states of aversive self-focus on subsequent consumption of ostensibly alcohol-containing beverages among a sample of women in early adulthood with varying levels of sexual identity-uncertainty (N = 75). Methods: Utilizing a 2 (self-focus: negative vs. neutral) × 2 (attribution for any psychological discomfort: external vs. none given) between-subjects design with 3 within-person assessments of salivary cortisol, both a moderation model and mixed-effects general linear model were tested. Results: States of aversive self-focus caused increases in overall consumption among women higher in sexual identity-uncertainty. Findings suggested consumption of ostensibly alcohol-containing beverages was more likely among women higher in sexual identity-uncertainty who also reported consuming beverages to cope with distress. Among women who reported higher levels of sexual identity-uncertainty and drinking-to-cope motives, salivary cortisol concentrations dampened more quickly over time, as they supposedly consumed alcohol. Conclusion: Findings demonstrate that, among women reporting sexual identity-uncertainty who are motivated to consume alcohol to forget about troubles or worries, situations which evoke states of aversive self-focus may contribute to differences in alcohol consumption in early adulthood.