skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 229110 Find in a Library
Title: Examining Theoretical Predictors of Substance Use Among a Sample of Incarcerated Youth
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation  Volume:48  Issue:8  Dated:November-December 2009  Pages:669-695
Author(s): Kelly Cooper; David May; Irina Soderstrom; G. Roger Jarjoura
Date Published: November 2009
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on data from approximately 800 juvenile offenders incarcerated in a Midwestern State, this study examined the association between attitudes about drug and alcohol use and the use of these substances and compared the findings to predictors addressed in 4 theoretical perspectives: nonsocial reinforcement theory, social learning theory, social bond theory, and strain theory.
Abstract: The study found that the youth who were most prone to receive intrinsic gratification from high-risk and thrill-seeking behaviors were significantly more likely than their counterparts to engage in each of the substance use activities. This finding suggests that nonsocial reinforcement is the strongest theoretical predictor of substance use among incarcerated youth, regardless of the substance (alcohol, hard drugs, or soft drugs). This theory holds that some individuals may receive an internal (or nonsocial) reward or reinforcement from committing a delinquent act. These types of reinforcements result from internal gratifications rather than external ones, such as gaining approval and status among peers. The fact that most of the youths received internal gratification from their substance use makes two potentially addictive factors work together to encourage continued substance use: the neurophysiological high received from the body's chemicals as the youth engages in risky behavior and the pharmaceutical high caused by the drug itself. The second strongest theoretical predictor in the study is social learning theory. Respondents' delinquent peers had a strong influence on the youths' involvement in substance use. The third strongest theoretical predictor is social bond theory, which holds that delinquent behaviors stem from a lack of exposure or commitment to bonding with role models for normative behavior. The least relevant of the theoretical predictors is strain theory, since these youth had given up on pursuing normative socioeconomic goals. Implications are dawn for drug prevention programs for youth. 6 tables and 55 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile drug use
Index Term(s): Adolescent attitudes; Drug abuse causes; Drug effects; Juvenile inmates; Risk taking behavior; Social bond theory; Social Learning; Strain theory
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.