African American emerging adults? experiences with racial discrimination and drinking habits: The moderating roles of perceived stress

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Objectives: Despite the abundance of research aimed at quantifying the impact of racism on the mental and physical health of African Americans, results remain inconclusive largely because of challenges with operationalization, as well as conflation with the concept of racial discrimination, which may be more readily assessed. The purpose of the current study was to: (a) determine whether racial discrimination had an impact on the degree of alcohol use and binge drinking among African American emerging adults, and if so, (b) determine whether perceived stress linked to racially discriminatory experiences moderated these associations. Method: We used a series of hierarchical regressions to examine associations among racial discrimination, perceived stress, and degree of alcohol consumption in a sample of African American emerging adults in the southeast (n = 235). Results: We found that the association between racial discrimination and degree of alcohol consumption (alcohol use and binge drinking) was strongest among individuals who reported greater levels of perceived stress linked to racial discrimination experiences. This association, however, was not significant for individuals who reported lower levels of perceived stress in response to racial discrimination. Conclusions: African Americans who experience a high degree of perceived stress in response to experiences with racial discrimination may be at greater risk for problem drinking than their peers with less perceived stress. These findings highlight the need for novel intervention efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of stress and racial discrimination on health outcomes.

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