Drug use in middle school: Assessing attitudinal and behavioral predictors

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James Hawdon


Generally speaking, theories of adolescent drug use emphasize either attitudinal variables, such as self-esteem or self-control, or behavioral variables, such as interactions with delinquent peers. This research uses variables such as self-esteem, impulsiveness, parental attachment, commitment to education, and peer drug use to predict adolescent substance usc. The analysis is conducted on a sample of 312 middle-school children from South Carolina. Results indicate that while attitudinal variables are important for predicting use, behavioral variables are superior predictors of adolescent drug use. Involvement in non-drug related crimes, associating with drug-using peers, and involvement in a recreational routine activity pattern, all behavioral variables, were the best predictors of adolescent drug use. Attachment was the best attitudinal predictor of drug use.


This research implies that dynamic models are needed to adequately explain the variation in adolescent drug usc, Researchers and theorists are reminded that recreational drug use among adolescents is often a behavior that conforms to sub-group norms and not simply behavior that deviates from the dominant culture's norms.

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