Adolescent substance use and family dynamics

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this research project was to explore the family structural variables of cohesion and adaptability as well as extracurricular activities, peer influences, and personal attitudes as they were manifested in adolescents classified as nonusers, users, and/or abusers of alcohol/drugs. Two hundred and thirty-seven adolescents responded to written questionnaires including the Alcohol and Drug Use Index, a reduced form of the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (FACES III), the Student Attitude and Behavior Questionnaire, and a Demographic Questionnaire. Information was obtained on age and grade level, gender and ethnicity, parental characteristics, and student's educational aspirations in an effort to identify factors associated with teenage alcohol/drug use. Some of the major findings suggested that the users/abusers groups reported less involvement with their families, educational pursuits, and extracurricular activities when compared to their nondrug using counterparts. The statistical analysis also confirmed some aspects of structural family therapy theory and refuted other aspects. The results of this study were also compared to prior research on adolescent substance use. These results further expanded the understanding of factors associated with adolescent use/abuse of alcohol/drugs.