Motives to drink alcohol are widely thought to be the proximal cognitive factors involved in the decision to consume alcohol beverages. However it has also been argued that the ability to restrain drinking may be a more proximal predictor of drinking behaviour. The current study aimed to examine the relationships between drinking motives, drinking restraint and both alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems in a sample of young adults. A sample of 221 young adults (aged 17-34 years) completed self-report measures assessing drinking behaviour, motives for drinking and drinking restraint. Multiple regression analyses revealed that coping, enhancement and social motives were related to alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems, while Cognitive and Emotional Preoccupation with drinking was related to all criterion variables. Further, the relationship between coping motives and drinking behaviour was mediated by preoccupation with drinking. The results are discussed in light of the roles of drinking motives and drinking restraint in risky drinking among young people, and implications for prevention and early intervention are presented.