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Psychoactive substance use among Arab adolescent school dropouts in Israel: a phenomenon and its implications

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This comprehensive study is the first to examine rates of legal and illegal psychoactive substance use and their predictors specifically among Arab adolescent school dropouts. It investigates the links between sociodemographic, interpersonal, cognitive and personality characteristics and use rates.

Four hundred and seventy-six Arab adolescents aged 12–18 from throughout Israel, who had dropped out of school, participated in the study in late 2004. Sampling was done using a cluster method in order to choose specific localities. Participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing substance use and other variables.

Legal substances – alcohol and tobacco – were used by 36% and 30% of the respondents, respectively, in the previous year. Being male, non-religious and having higher behavioural intentions and positive attitudes regarding use increased the odds of substance use. The best predictors of alcohol use were gender and religiosity, each raising the odds of use by 3.5. The best predictor of tobacco use was gender, raising the odds by 12.7. The best predictors of illegal use, behavioural intentions and risk perception, each doubled the odds of use.

These and other results facilitate a better understanding of substance use among Arab adolescent dropouts and can foster the development of appropriate prevention and intervention programmes for this underserved population.
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Keywords: Arab adolescents; dropouts; drugs; psychoactive substance use; substance abuse

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The University of Haifa, Haifa, 2: Israel Anti-Drug Authority, Jerusalem and 3: Massar Institute for Strategic Planning and Consulting, Jatt, Israel

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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