Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon M. Suldo, Ph.D.

Keywords

Alcohol, Cigarettes, Marijuana, School psychologists, Students, Hispanic

Abstract

Low life satisfaction and substance use in adolescence are causes for concern as each problem is known to be associated with many concurrent and later negative outcomes. To date, only four studies have examined links between these variables in youth. This study added to the literature by examining adolescents' life satisfaction in relation to their frequency of use of a variety of substance types, using an understudied population (i.e., a predominantly Hispanic sample of 130 high school students). Results included significant, inverse bivariate links between adolescent life satisfaction and use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. When examined simultaneously, adolescents' use of any of the three substance types accounted for a significant but small proportion (6%) of variance in global life satisfaction scores. Other notable results include that gender (but not ethnicity) moderated the relationship between life satisfaction and one type of substance use; specifically, adolescent males who drank alcohol in the past year did not experience diminished life satisfaction. Contrary to hypotheses, high life satisfaction did not protect students who experienced increased risk factors (e.g., poor academic achievement, conduct problems, emotional problems) from actual use of substances. Implications of these findings for future research and practice are outlined and discussed.

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