Racial/ethnic discrimination, ADH1B*3, and coping-motivated drinking among Black college students

Michelle J. Zaso, Jueun Kim, Jessica M. Desalu, Patricia A. Goodhines, Michael A. Marciano, Aesoon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Discrimination due to race and/or ethnicity can be a pervasive stressor for Black college students in the United States beyond general negative life events and has demonstrated associations with adverse health and alcohol outcomes. Genetics may confer individual differences in the risk of drinking to cope with discrimination-related stress. This study tested whether associations of racial/ethnic discrimination with coping drinking motives and alcohol use differ as a function of a well-documented variant in the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene (ADH1B*3). Methods: Cross-sectional data were obtained from 241 Black students (Mage = 20.04 [range = 18–53]; 66% female) attending a predominantly White university in the northeastern United States. Participants provided a saliva sample for genotyping and self-reported on their racial/ethnic discrimination experiences, coping drinking motives, and past-month total alcohol quantity. Results: Path models demonstrated that associations of discrimination with alcohol quantity directly or indirectly through coping drinking motives did not differ as a function of ADH1B*3, after controlling for gender, age, negative life events, and potential confounding interactions of covariates with model predictors. Regardless of ADH1B*3, greater experience of negative life events was associated with higher coping drinking motives, which in turn were associated with greater alcohol quantity. Conclusion and Scientific Significance: Findings represent a novel investigation into gene–environment interplay in associations of alcohol use with racial/ethnic discrimination. Findings demonstrate coping-motivated drinking associated with negative life events within Black college drinkers regardless of ADH1B*3. Future research should leverage longitudinal designs to characterize associations of genetics, stressful experiences, and coping-motivated drinking over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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