Title

Adolescents’ Anticipated Emotional and Behavioral Responses to Alcohol and Drug Offers

Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Harold Rosenberg

Abstract

Theories of adolescent experimental substance use note that proximal influences, including refusal skills and substance use decisions in response to drug offers, are more amenable to change than distal influences. However, research on adolescents’ responses to offers of alcohol or drugs has not addressed whether resistance responses vary by type of drug, or whether emotional reactions to an offer of drugs or alcohol are associated with adolescents’ intentions to use resistance strategies. Therefore, I assessed whether type of drug (alcohol vs. marijuana), relationship with the offerer (close friends vs. acquaintance), and drug refusal policy (uniform rejection, marijuana-only refusal, open-to-offers) affected anticipated emotional reactions and intended use of a broad range of resistance responses. I administered a questionnaire to high school students to assess resistance responses adolescents have used in the past, resistance responses adolescents expect to use in the future, and expected emotional reactions to drug offers. Although there was statistically significant variation in anticipated use of different types of strategies according to drug and offerer, two particular strategies (“say no,” “say don’t want it”) were endorsed most often regardless of the drug/offerer condition. Participants who had made an a priori decision to refuse offers of alcohol or marijuana more often anticipated that an offer would be a negative experience, and more often anticipated that they would use various types of resistance strategies in response to the offer. Background characteristics such as age, gender, race, grade, locality, grade point average, and intentions of going to college had little association with endorsement of emotional reactions or resistance strategies. However, prior experience of receiving drug offers predicted anticipation of less negative emotional reactions and lower endorsement of resistance strategies. Emotional reactions were correlated with resistance strategies, indicating that participants more frequently endorsed using resistance responses to an offer when they expected that the offer would be a negative emotional experience. This study has contributed to the field of substance use prevention by identifying proximal intrapersonal factors associated with endorsement of resistance strategies (anticipation of negative emotions in response to a drug offer, prior decision to refuse an offer) and by identifying factors associated with rejection of resistance strategies (anticipation of positive emotions in response to a drug offer, past history of drug offers).