Age of beginning
|It has been found that age of beginning to use a substance is a major predictor of later use and problems associated with use. This may be because there are factors associated with early use which of themselves predict later use. Age of beginning is thus of relevance as an outcome and also for planning of programmes. Please bear in mind that in the instrument on 'Age of Beginning' a low score means a high level of awareness.|
This study investigated drug use as part of a syndrome of problem behaviour including delinquency and sexual precocity. The study investigated the role of protective as well as risk factors in relation to such behaviour. Six protective factors were measured including positive orientation to school, positive orientation to health, intolerance of deviance, positive relation with adults perceived regulatory controls, and friend models for conventional behaviour. Risk factors included low expectation of success, low self-esteem, disengagement from societal norms, friend models for problem behaviour, and low grade point average.
The measure of problem behaviour was by means of the Multiple Problem Behaviour Index (MPBI). This included four areas of adolescent problem behaviour including drinking, delinquency, marijuana involvement, and sexual experience. The measures of marijuana involvement include lifetime use, frequency of use, and the number of times being high.
This study was concerned with three major matters. The first was the extent to which peer group influence was significant using a longitudinal design so that selective friendship would be not be a factor. The second has to do with the precise identification of the peer group, particularly the importance of close friends vs. the wider peer group. The third question was the relative importance of peer group behaviour vs. peer group approval. The results based on 3,000 Irish school pupils showed that in relation to initiation to drug use, the most relevant group were best friends and that the perceived drug use of this person was the most potent influence.
The study would be of value for summative evaluation in that it would indicate some items for measuring peer influence that might of interest if the focus of the prevention programme was on peer influence.