Forgiveness and college student drinking in southern Appalachia

Jon R. Webb, Ken Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Aims: Forgiveness, a motivationally and volitionally unique method of coping, has been argued to be relevant to addiction and recovery. However, little empirical evidence exists in support thereof. Methods: As such, cross-sectional associations between dimensions of forgiveness (Fetzer) and drinking (AUDIT) were examined among college students (n = 721; ♀ = 516; Mage = 23) from the rural southern Appalachian region of the United States. Results: Using multiple regression analyses and independent of demographic variables and religiousness, while no forgiveness dimension was predictive of drinking in the first place (yesno), Feeling Forgiven by God predicted a decreased likelihood of problematic drinking (NonOK drinking vs. problematic drinking). Further, among problematic drinkers (n = 126; ♀ = 75; Mage = 22), Feeling Forgiven by God predicted fewer alcohol-related problems and Forgiveness of Self predicted lower HALT scores, all with medium effect sizes. Forgiveness of Others was not associated with the alcohol-related variables. Conclusions: Of the dimensions of forgiveness measured, it appears that Feeling Forgiven by God may be most important in the context of drinking and problems therewith, while Forgiveness of Self may be most important in the context of relapse prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-433
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Substance Use
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Forgiveness
  • alcohol
  • college students


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