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bulletAdolescent Drug Use and Psychological Health: A Longitudinal Inquiry

Jonathan Shedler and Jack Block, University of California Berkeley

ABSTRACT: The relation between psychological characteristics and drug use was investigated in subjects studied longitudinally, from preschool through age 18. Adolescents who had engaged in some drug experimentation (primarily with marijuana) were the best-adjusted in the sample. Adolescents who used drugs frequently were maladjusted, showing 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 between frequent drug users, experimenters, and abstainers could be traced to the earliest years of childhood and related to the quality of parenting received. The findings indicate that (a) problem drug use is a symptom, not a cause, of personal and social maladjustment, and (b) the meaning of drug use can be understood only in the context of an individual's personality structure and developmental history. It is suggested that current efforts at drug prevention are misguided to the extent that they focus on symptoms, rather than on the psychological syndrome underlying drug abuse.

bulletUrban Delinquency and Substance Abuse: Initial Findings (Research Summary) (PDF format)

ABSTRACT: This is a summary of a longitudinal study from Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester that examines the sequence of causal factors that impact children and lead to juvenile delinquency and the role that substance abuse plays in it. Page seven begins a section which outlines the developmental pathways for delinquency. A landmark study funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

bulletProject DARE: No Effects at 10-Year Follow-Up

ABSTRACT:The present study examined the impact of Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), a widespread drug-prevention program, 10 years after administration. A total of 1,002 individuals who in 6th grade had either received DARE or a standard drug-education curriculum, were reevaluated at age 20. Few differences were found between the 2 groups in terms of actual drug use, drug attitudes, or self-esteem, and in no case did the DARE group have a more successful outcome than the comparison group. Possible reasons why DARE remains so popular, despite the lack of documented efficacy, are offered. From, The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.