Association of Therapeutic and Recreational Reasons for Alcohol Use With Alcohol Demand

Erin Ferguson, Andrew Fiore, Ali M. Yurasek, Robert L. Cook, Jeff Boissoneault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Motives for alcohol use and behavioral economic measures of demand are associated with alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. However, it is unclear how differences in reasons for alcohol use may affect alcohol demand. Additionally, although alcohol is commonly used to self-manage conditions such as pain and sleep problems, the impact of these reasons for alcohol use on alcohol demand is not well characterized. The present study addressed this gap. Participants were adults recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk as part of a larger study investigating health behaviors. Analyses included participants who reported alcohol use in the past year (N = 637). Participants were categorized as having recreational, therapeutic, or both recreational and therapeutic reasons for using alcohol. A brief, three-item measure of alcohol demand was administered. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) analyses revealed that alcohol drinkers endorsing both recreational and therapeutic reasons for use had significantly higher average intensity, Omax, and breakpoint indices compared to thosewho only reported recreational or therapeutic drinkingmotives (ps <.05; Cohen’s d =.09–.17). Secondary analyses revealed differences in demand according to therapeutic reason for alcohol use endorsed. Significant main effects were found for use to relieve pain and anxiety/depression/stress, while interactive effects were detected for use to relieve pain and improve sleep and use to relieve pain and anxiety/depression/stress. Overall, results suggest that alcohol demand is highest in drinkers who consume alcohol for both therapeutic and recreational reasons. This group may be at elevated risk for alcohol use disorder and alcohol-related consequences. Continued research is necessary to examine this possibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 24 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium (U24AA020002). Support for the research team (Erin Ferguson) was provided by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant F31AA028696. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official view of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association


  • alcohol
  • demand
  • reason for alcohol use

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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