Publication Date

Spring 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jenni Teeters (Director), Amy M. Brausch, and Andrew Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Underage drinking is a serious public health concern with magnified physical and psychological risks for adolescents. Consequences can include impaired judgement, increased risk for alcohol problems later in life, increased risk of physical and sexual assault, interference with brain development, injuries, and death (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2021). In a 2019 survey, 29% of high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Given the high rates of use and adverse effects associated with adolescent substance use, research on risk factors related to alcohol use among this age group is critical. Previous research suggests that emotion dysregulation is one factor linked to substance use (Gross, 2014). However, a majority of these studies included adult or college populations with very few studies examining the connection between emotion dysregulation and alcohol use in adolescence. Moreover, most studies utilized cross-sectional designs. The present study aimed to longitudinally examine the links between emotion dysregulation and alcohol use among adolescents by assessing the role of emotion dysregulation and its subscales in adolescent alcohol use and problems over time. Participants were 695 high school students, with 309 students having completed Time 2 data collection. Results indicated that adolescents with more emotion regulation difficulties were more likely to endorse greater baseline alcohol use and problems. However, greater emotion regulation difficulties did not significantly predict future alcohol use and problems six months later. Concerning the emotion dysregulation subscales, results indicated that adolescents who reported greater impulse control difficulties at baseline were more likely to endorse greater baseline alcohol use and problems, and that adolescents who reported low emotional awareness at baseline were more likely to endorse greater alcohol use and problems at the six-month follow-up. These findings can be used to better inform substance use prevention and intervention efforts in high schools. Future research should examine if emotion dysregulation plays a role in other substance use behaviors commonly endorsed by high school students, such as cannabis use and simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis.


Child Psychology | Clinical Psychology | Health Psychology