A 1 year follow up investigation on family and personal predictors of Marijuana use among Italian adolescents.
Authors:Jenna Alarcon, Jenese Girgis
Mentor:Enrique Ortega, CSUDH, Department of Health Science & University of Turin, School of Human and Social Sciences, California State University Dominguez Hills
Background: In Italy the use of certain substances such as alcohol are encouraged and even guided by the family during adolescence, while others such as marijuana and heavy drug use are strictly prohibited. Nonetheless, Italian adolescents are among the highest in Europe for high-risk marijuana consumption. We investigated the cross-sectional and 1 year longitudinal influence of both family life and academic achievement on experimental marijuana use, heavy marijuana use, and heavy other drug use among a sample of Italian adolescents.
Methods: The sample consisted of 324 youths (56% male) ranging in age from 15-20 (M = 17.29 yrs, SD = 1.61) living in northwest Italy and was reasonably balanced for gender (48% girls). Linear regressions we utilized to investigate our associations of interest.
Results: Cross sectional results indicated that greater family stress was associated with experimentation with marijuana use (β = .14, p < 0.05). Greater academic value (β = -.30, p < 0.01) and experiencing more difficulty in class (β = -.19, p < 0.05) was associated with less experimentation. Heavy drug use was negatively associated with greater value placed on academics (β = -.16, p < 0.01). On the other hand stricter family rules predicted lower experimentation with marijuana (β = -.11, p < 0.001) and lower heavy marijuana use (β = -.50, p < 0.001) one year later. Greater academic self-confidence was also associated with lower marijuana use one year later (β = -.33, p < 0.05).
Conclusion: While not every important explaining factor has been studied we have attempted to look at the effects of commonly studied adolescent drug use determinants in Italy. Continued efforts in health science should be made to better explain both the risk and protective factors of drug use among Italian adolescents.