Predicting Alcohol and Tobacco Use in a Sample of Rural Adolescents

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American Journal of Health Behavior




Objective: To examine adolescent perception of risk and the behavior and attitudes of parents and friends to evaluate which best predicts alcohol and tobacco use in a sample of rural adolescents.

Methods: Data were collected from one rural school district using a paper and pencil survey of 548 adolescents. Specific items related to personal use of alcohol and tobacco, friends use of alcohol and tobacco and parental use of alcohol and tobacco and perception of risk about use of these substances were analyzed using a multiple regression model for each substance.

Results: Friends use of alcohol and tobacco predicted adolescent use (.001), while perception of use was did not have any effect in the multiple regression model.

Conclusion: Although the study failed to support the idea that perception of risk was a strong influence on adolescent substance use, it did support other studies that have found friend or peer influence to be a key factor in initiation and subsequent substance use.