Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology

First Advisor

Todd A. Smitherman

Second Advisor

Stefan E. Schulenberg

Third Advisor

John Young

Abstract

Drug use among adolescents is one of the nation's most significant public health concerns, with an estimated 47% to 56% of adolescents engaging in illicit substance use before completing high school. Negative consequences often associated with adolescent substance use frequently result in severe emotional and physical problems and serve to illustrate the growing importance of identifying associated risk factors. It is likely that psychological risk factors play an important role in the initiation and continued use of drugs among adolescents. In particular, mood and anxiety disorders have emerged as two such psychological risk factors. Unfortunately, studies examining this relationship have almost exclusively focused on clinical populations. Additionally, the few studies examining this relationship among community samples tend to be limited in minority representation, especially with regard to minority youth residing in a rural geographical location. As such, the current study aimed to elucidate the relationship between depression and anxiety and adolescent substance use among a sample of diverse adolescents residing in a predominantly rural geographical location. Findings demonstrate the significant role of depression and anxiety above and beyond relevant sociodemographic variables (SES, gender, ethnicity, and grade level) in predicting lifetime substance use among this unique population. Findings extend previous research and suggest the need for early prevention initiatives aimed at both adolescent substance use and psychological correlates such as depression and anxiety.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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