Why do young people drink? A review of drinking motives Academic Article uri icon


  • This article reviews evidence of adolescent and young adult drinking motives and their relation to possible consequences over the last 15 years. To this end, a computer-assisted search of relevant articles was conducted. Results revealed that most young people reported drinking for social motives, some indicated enhancement motives, and only a few reported coping motives. Social motives appear to be associated with moderate alcohol use, enhancement with heavy drinking, and coping motives with alcohol-related problems. However, an enormous heterogeneity was found in terms of how motives were measured: 10 to 40 items were grouped into between 2 and 10 dimensions and sometimes the same items occurred under different dimensions. Future studies should therefore use well-defined, theoretically based, homogenous instruments to disentangle cultural from measurement differences across surveys.

publication date

  • November 2005