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Sources of adolescent stress, smoking and the use of other drugs

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Stress is an established correlate of smoking behaviour in regular adult smokers and has been related to the use of alcohol and other drugs as well. Empirical data supporting these assertions are entirely consistent with theoretical conceptions of both smoking and other substance use behaviours. Despite both supportive theory and empirical evidence with adults, however, little work has been done to extend such views to adolescent smoking and the use of other substances, where the evolution of these health risk behaviours is still plastic and potentially amenable to intervention. The present study reports associations between sources of adolescent stress assessed by an instrument purposely constructed for that exercise and both smoking behaviour and the use of alcohol and other substances. Some sources of stress in the self-reported experience of adolescents statistically related both to current smoking and to the use of alcohol and other drugs. Associations were generally stronger for smoking than for other substances and both stronger and broader for girls than for boys. Stress arising from compulsory school attendance was broadly associated with substance use for both boys and girls and this was in line with past evidence; for girls, however, associations extended to stressors arising from other sources and particularly those to do with the family. The theoretical bases for these findings are discussed in the context of the stress reduction properties of smoking and other substance use, and the implications for intervention through targeted stress management are raised. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Keywords: adolescents; alcohol; drug use; marijuana; smoking; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Psychology, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Publication date: October 1, 1999

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