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Many approaches to drug-use prevention take as their point of departure the attempt to enhance self-esteem. This is based on the view that low self-esteem plays in role in mediating relenting to pressure to experiment with drugs. The CORE SCALE below draws on the most commonly used items in the measurement of self-esteem.
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Relevant Studies
Self-perceptions, religiosity and substance use
Gorsuch, R.L. (1995). Religious aspects of substance abuse and recovery. Journal of Social Issues, 51, 65-83.

This study reviews the relationship between religiousness and substance use. Some of the research suggests that religiousness is associated with lower substance use because religious people have been socialised to accept anti-drug norms and have a mechanism for satisfying needs for social contact and meaning in life. However, the relationship occurs only a nurturing and supportive religiosity and not for a restrictive, negativistic, and ritualistic form of religiosity. Despite the consistency of this finding, it is interesting that its influence is cited rather infrequently in explanations of substance use. There are a number of prevention studies that have targeted religion and at least some have been successful (Mitchel et al., 1984). From the viewpoint of measurement, the most relevant aspect may be the intrinsic vs. extrinsic measure of religiosity which has been developed by Gorsuch.

Self-esteem and the effects of a prevention programme
Morgan, M., Morrow, R., Sheehan, A.M. & Lillis, M. (1996). Prevention of substance misuse: Rationale and effectiveness of the programme 'On My Own Two Feet'. OIDEAS: Journal of the Department of Education (Ireland), 44, 5-26.

This study examined the role of the enhancement of self-esteem and assertiveness in the mediation of the effects of a substance use prevention programme. The programme itself was found to have significant effects on attitudes and beliefs regarding substance use but rather less effects on actual behaviour. An analysis of how these effects were mediated suggests that the enhancement of self-esteem and the learning of assertiveness skills played an important role in the outcomes. However, it was not possible to say that they provided a complete picture of how the effects were brought about.

Life-style values of adolescents
Prokhorov, A.V., Perry, C.L., Kelder, S.H., & Klepp, K. (1993). Lifestyle values of adolescents: Results from the Minnesota Heart Health Youth program. Adolescence, 28, 637 - 647.

As part of the Minnesota Heart Health Promotion Programme a seven year cohort study of adolescents in two different communities was conducted. A school-based intervention was implemented in one of the communities which addressed aspects of cardiovascular health promotion and risk-factor prevention. Based on social learning theory, the focus was on group norms, providing alternative health role models, teaching students social skills to enable them to resist pressure to engage in risky behaviours, and the generation of health enhancing alternatives. A feature of the study was the change in lifestyle pattern over the years including physical appearance, school performance, family, amount of exercise, number of friends, kind of food, amount of money, and amount of TV. The study showed that physical appearance was the most valued characteristic and the only value which grew in importance over time. Students who participated in the community intervention tended to retain their positive value about physical exercise while the reference community demonstrated gradual reductions.

In measuring values related to life-style, students were asked to respond to eight factors on a Likert-type scale, to the question: When you think about the things that really count, how important is: (i) The number of friends, (ii) the kind of food eaten, (iii) the amount of money you can spend on yourself, (iv) the amount of exercise you get, (v) the amount of TV you watch, (vi) physical appearance, (vii) getting along well with families. Rating ranged from 'not at all important' to 'extremely important'.


Page last updated: Thursday, 15 July 2004