OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine associations between three measures of affective instability (total affective instability [i.e., the sum of negative and positive affective instability], negative affective instability, and positive affective instability) and the likelihood and quantity of alcohol consumption in an adult community sample, within and between subjects.
METHOD: Following an ecological momentary assessment protocol, 162 adults from the community (109 women, ages 20-50 years old, M = 36.07, SD = 9.23) reported their affect and alcohol consumption 10 times a day for 7 consecutive days on their smartphones.
RESULTS: Within subjects, total affective instability was positively associated with likelihood and quantity of alcohol consumption. Separately, negative and positive affective instability were not associated with likelihood or quantity of alcohol consumption at the within-subject level. Total, negative, and positive affective instability were associated with neither likelihood nor quantity of alcohol consumption at the between-subject level.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that consuming alcohol in response to affective instability was a within-person process, and that higher than a person's average levels of negative and positive affective instability may have a cumulative effect. Personalized interventions should identify days when affective instability is elevated and provide alternative, adaptive strategies for coping with emotional dysregulation. These interventions need to target instability in both negative and positive affect to counter their cumulative effect on alcohol consumption.
- AFFECT VARIABILITY
- DEPENDENCE SYMPTOMS