Characteristics of Teen Substance Users: A Data-Driven Learning Guide
Goal & Concept
The goal of this exercise is to explore the characteristics of adolescents who use alcohol and marijuana. Crosstabulations and bar charts will be used.
Deviant behavior is socially and culturally defined. Behaviors considered deviant in one society may be viewed as quite harmless in another. A behavior may even be defined as deviant when one type of person does it, but not when another type of person does. In the United States, the use of illegal drugs and alcohol is subject to similar socially constructed definitions of deviance. Alcohol use is considered deviant when the user is under the legal drinking age, driving an automobile, or pregnant, but quite acceptable under other conditions. Likewise, some types of illegal drugs are deemed more deviant than others, and the definition varies with the circumstances of use.
Adolescent substance use is of particular importance to researchers and policy makers because adolescence is characterized by a period of physical, emotional, and psychological development, all of which may influence, and be influenced by, substance use.
Examples of possible research questions about the characteristics of adolescent substance users:
- What proportion of teens have ever consumed alcohol?
- How often do teens report drinking alcohol until they are drunk?
- What proportion of teens report ever using marijuana?
- Are there racial or gender differences in substance use?
- Do religious teens use substances less frequently than less-religious teens?
- How do teens' aspirations for the future relate to substance use?
- Is employment related to substance use?
CITATION: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Characteristics of Teen Substance Users: A Data-Driven Learning Guide. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-04-16. Doi:10.3886/teensubstance
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