Pregaming and Emotion Regulation’s Relationship to Alcohol Problems in College Students: A Cross-Sectional Study


Background: Pregaming is a high-risk drinking behavior associated with increased alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. Quantity of alcohol consumed does not fully explain the level of problems associated with pregaming; yet, limited research has examined factors that may interact with pregaming behavior to contribute to the experience of alcohol-related problems. Objectives: The current study examined whether use of two emotion regulation strategies influence pregaming’s contribution to alcohol-related problems. Methods: Undergraduates (N = 1857) aged 18–25 years attending 19 different colleges completed an online survey in 2008–2009. Linear mixed models were used to test whether emotion regulation strategies moderate the association between pregaming status (pregamers vs. non/infrequent pregamers) and alcohol-related problems, when controlling for alcohol consumption, demographic covariates, and site as a random effect. Results: Greater use of cognitive reappraisal was associated with decreased alcohol problems. Expressive suppression interacted with pregaming status. There was no relationship between pregaming status and alcohol problems for students who rarely used expression suppression; however, the relationship between pregaming status and alcohol problems was statistically significant for students who occasionally to frequently used expression suppression. Conclusions/Importance: Findings suggest that the relationship between pregaming and alcohol-related problems is complex. Accordingly, future studies should utilize event-level methodology to understand how emotion regulation strategies influence alcohol-related problems. Further, clinicians should tailor alcohol treatments to help students increase their use of cognitive reappraisal and decrease their use of suppression. © 2016, © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Substance Use and Misuse