Background: Affective disturbances have long been implicated in the onset and maintenance
of problematic alcohol use. Affective risk theory for problem drinking has moved beyond
early documentation that negative affect broadly confers risk to models specifying specific affectbased
Objective: This paper provides a theory-driven review of recent literature on the role of affect-based
factors in the etiology of problematic alcohol use. First, we review recent advances in the understanding
of affect-based risk for problem drinking. Second, we highlight the importance of three
specific affect-based risk factors: urgency, affective lability, and rumination. Third, we offer hypotheses
regarding the reciprocal relationships between specific risk factors and drinking problems.
Finally, we suggest possible avenues for future research.
Conclusion: Recent advances in the understanding of reciprocal prediction between affect-based
risk factors and problem drinking have set the stage for important new avenues of investigation into
the risk process. Affect-based risk processes appear to influence each otherover time, and they influence
and are influenced by problem drinking. Further understanding of these processes will pave the
way for a new generation of intervention strategies.