February 18, 2015
Major and Classification
- Jennifer Unger, Ph.D.
- Keck: Institute for Prevention Research
Factors Influencing Alcohol Abuse in Urban Adolescent Latino Populations
Several frameworks have been proposed to encompass the role of both modifiable and non-modifiable factors in the development of drug and alcohol dependence. The most encompassing of the theories is perhaps the Problem-Behavior Theory, PBT (Jessor & Jessor, 1977), which con- sists of three distinct systems of variables: the perceived-environment system, behavior system, and personality system. Each of these systems is composed of a balance of instigation and control variables, with proneness to exhibiting problem behaviors, such as adolescent alcohol abuse, occurring when instigators outweigh controls across these sys- tems. It has also been shown that tolerance for alcohol consumption and decreased perception of the danger of alcohol correlate with increasing age in adolescents (Smith & Rosenthal, 1995), but little data has been gathered about this with regard to urban Latino/Hispanic adolescents. This study utilized a 41 question survey distributed to 127 Latino/His- panic students, aged 15-19 (mean 16.4), in the Los Angeles metro area, to examine relationships between levels of perceived independence, satisfaction with social life, socially proximal exposure to alcohol and tendency to abstain from or engage in casual and binge drinking, as guided by the PBT. Of those surveyed, only 55% reported living with both biological parents, 79.84% reported having consumed alcohol previously, and 46.4% reported doing so before the age of 15. Over 56% of students had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Nearly 40% of students self-reported having experienced clinically-defined depression within the past 12 months. Further investigation will ideally elucidate the extent of correlations between adolescent alcohol consumption and the environmental and behavioral variables which govern the systems to PBT within the urban Latino teenage community.