Predictors Of Substance Use Among Vulnerable Adolescents In Five Cities: Findings From The Well-Being Of Adolescents In Vulnerable Environments Study

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PREDICTORS OF SUBSTANCE USE AMONG VULNERABLE ADOLESCENTS IN FIVE CITIES: FINDINGS FROM THE WELL-BEING OF ADOLESCENTS IN VULNERABLE ENVIRONMENTS STUDY

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Adolescent substance use has numerous consequences. Our goals in this article are to compare the prevalence and correlates of substance use among ethnically diverse adolescents.

METHODS:

Data were from 2,332 adolescents aged 15-19 years recruited via respondent-driven sampling from disadvantaged settings in five cities. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify correlates of current substance use.

RESULTS:

About half of the respondents were male. Most adolescents (73.4%) were currently enrolled in school and identified a father (86.2%) and mother (98.6%) figure and strong peer support. Sixty-two percent reported lifetime use of at least one substance. Overall, the most common substances ever used were alcohol (44.6%), cigarettes (26.2%), and marijuana (17.9%). Mean age at first use of alcohol was 14.2 ± 3.1 years. Current alcohol use was highest in Johannesburg (47.4%) and lowest in Delhi (2.1%). The mean age at first use of cigarettes was 14.4 ± 2.8 years. Current cigarette smoking was highest in Johannesburg (32.5%) and lowest in Delhi (3.7%). Male gender predicted current alcohol use in all sites, older age (17-19 years) was also a predictor in Baltimore. Male gender (Johannesburg and Shanghai), older age (Baltimore and Shanghai), and being out of school (Baltimore, Johannesburg, and Shanghai) predicted current cigarette smoking. Absence of a caring father figure was predictive for current alcohol use in Baltimore and Shanghai. Stronger peer support predicted alcohol (Johannesburg and Shanghai) and cigarette use (Johannesburg).

CONCLUSIONS:

Substance use is still a major issue among adolescents around the world, underscoring the need for continued research and interventions.

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