Identifying Mechanisms Underlying the Association between Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Problematic Alcohol Use in College Students
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Students with ADHD represent a significant population on college campuses who have been found to be at risk for problematic alcohol use. Yet little is known about mechanisms underlying the association between ADHD and alcohol-related problems. We examined patterns and consequences of alcohol use in college students with and without ADHD, as well as three possible mediators of the association between ADHD and alcohol-related impairment: (1) self-reported difficulty stopping a drinking session, (2) cue dependency on a behavioral task of response inhibition, and (3) self-reported trait disinhibition. Participants with ADHD reported higher rates of negative consequences of alcohol use relative to the non-ADHD group, despite equivalent rates of alcohol use. In addition, the ADHD group had higher rates of difficulty stopping a drinking session. Difficulty stopping a drinking session mediated the relationship between ADHD and negative consequences of alcohol use. Cue dependency and trait disinhibition did not mediate this relationship. These findings indicate that college students with ADHD are experiencing higher rates of negative consequences of alcohol use relative to their peers without ADHD. Difficulty stopping a drinking session may be one mechanism that explains the relationship between ADHD and alcohol-related problems.