College students who experience stigma report problematic alcohol use. However, the stigma-health link focuses on one form of stigma, thereby excluding the intersectional oppression of experiencing multiple forms of stigma. The present work has two primary aims: 1) evaluating whether additive intersectional minority stress confers greater problematic alcohol use among multiply-stigmatized college students one year later, and 2) whether that link can be explained by 1) lower belongingness and 2) greater drinking to cope motives. Students (N=427) ranging in stigmatized identities (14.3% zero; 46.4% one; 29.5% two; 9.8% three or more), participated in an annual health survey at two subsequent fall semesters (2020 to 2021). Structural equation modeling tested the hypothesized model on relations between number of stigmatized identities, minority stressors, belongingness, and coping motive on problematic drinking (risky and problem drinking) one year later. As hypothesized, holding more stigmatized identities predicted higher minority stress, which in turn predicted less belonging. Partially consistent with expectations, lower belonging predicted more problem drinking, but less risky drinking. As expected, higher minority stress predicted higher drinking to cope motives, which in turn, predicted more problem drinking, and risky drinking. In conclusion, belongingness and drinking to cope may be potential mechanisms through which multiply-stigmatized students experience future problem drinking, but that may not always confer to more risky drinking. Implications for universities include implementation of 1) campus-wide belonging interventions for students facing stigma, and 2) initiatives to teach alternative coping strategies that reduce drinking to cope as a strategy to reduce the impact of minority stressors.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License