The majority of people who use substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs usually do so for the first time during adolescence. If they continue to use, studies show that they increase their risk for negative outcomes and put themselves at increased tendency toward sexual promiscuity, poor academic achievement, impulsivity, driving under the influence, legal problems, diminished judgment, risky behaviors, sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancies. Therefore, understanding what can protect adolescents from initiating substance use, and what promotes it, is critical to the prevention of it.
Sarah R. Lowe of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York recently led a study that looked at how specific self-management skills, including self-control and reinforcement, grades, and gender influenced substance use rates and trajectories among a sample of 1,756 black and Hispanic students in grades 7 through 11. Lowe followed their use over a four year period and found that substance use increased for all the participants during the study period. However, the students who began using in 7th grade had more gradual increases in use than those who started later. Lowe believes this could be due to a ceiling effect found in earlier users, suggesting that interventions should not only be focused on the age of the substance user, but also the course of their use.
Lowe also discovered that students with the lowest grades had the highest rates of substance use, and also had the poorest levels of self-management. It is unclear based on these results if self-management influences the grades directly, or if the grades influence the self-management, and how substance use is integrated into these two factors. These findings do provide evidence that students with low academic performance, poor self-control, and poor self-management skills, are more vulnerable to substance use than their more academically successful peers. This study also suggests that this is especially prevalent in male students. This knowledge will be critical for the development of new intervention efforts. Lowe added, “The results suggest that the extent to which interventions can build self-management skills, and identify youth who lack them early on, the more they can prevent substance-use initiation and escalation.”
Sarah, R. Lowe, et al. Longitudinal relationships between self-management skills and substance use in an urban sample of predominantly minority adolescents. Journal of Drug Issues 43.1 (2013): 103-18. ProQuest Family Health; ProQuest Research Library. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.