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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 135905 Find in a Library
Title: Adolescent Drug Use and Psychological Health
Journal: American Psychologist  Volume:45  Issue:5  Dated:(May 1990)  Pages:612-630
Author(s): J Shedler; J Block
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 19
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the relationship between psychological characteristics and drug use in 101 subjects (49 boys and 52 girls) from preschool through age 18.
Abstract: Information on drug use was collected at age 18 during individual interviews with the subjects. At age 18 the personality characteristics of each subject were described by four psychologists, using the standard vocabulary of the California Adult Q-sort (Block, 1961/1978). Adolescents who had engaged in some drug experimentation (primarily with marijuana) were better adjusted psychologically than those who used drugs frequently or had abstained from drug use. Adolescents who used drugs frequently were maladjusted, as they showed a distinct personality syndrome marked by interpersonal alienation, poor impulse control, and manifest emotional distress. Adolescents who, by age 18, had never experimented with any drug were relatively anxious, emotionally constricted, and lacking in social skills. Psychological differences among frequent drug users, experimenters, and abstainers could be traced to the earliest years of childhood and the quality of parenting received. The findings indicate that problem drug use is a symptom, not a cause, of personal and social maladjustment, and the meaning of drug use can be understood only in the context of a person's personality structure and developmental history. Current drug prevention efforts are misguided to the extent that they focus on symptoms rather than on the psychological syndrome that underlies drug abuse. 6 tables, 1 figure, and 62 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile drug use; Mental health
Index Term(s): Juvenile psychological evaluation; Longitudinal studies
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