The effect of the Canterbury earthquakes on alcohol consumption and motivations for drinking among psychologically resilient individuals.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Individual responses to natural disasters are highly variable. The psychological and behavioural response trajectories of those who manage to cope well with adverse life events are in need of further investigation. Increased alcohol use is often observed in communities exposed to mass traumas, particularly among those exposed to severe levels of trauma, with males drinking more than females. The current study examined patterns of alcohol use and motivations for drinking among a sample of psychologically resilient individuals with varying levels of exposure to the Canterbury earthquakes (N = 91) using structured and semi-structured interviews and self-report measures. As hypothesised, there was a significant increase in alcohol consumption since the earthquakes began, and males reported significantly higher levels of pre-earthquake and current alcohol consumption than females. Contrary to expectations, there was no association between traumatic exposure severity and alcohol consumption. While participants reported anxiety-based coping motives for drinking at levels comparable to those reported by other studies, depression-based coping motives were significantly lower, providing partial support for the hypothesis that participants would report coping motives for drinking at levels comparable to those found by other researchers. No gender differences in drinking motives were found. As expected, current alcohol consumption was positively correlated with anxiety and depression-based coping motives for drinking. Psychological resilience was not significantly associated with alcohol use, however resilience was negatively associated with depression-based coping motives for drinking. These findings have inter-generational and international implications for post-traumatic intervention.