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The Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Abuse of Alcohol, Marijuana, and Tobacco among College Students

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study examined the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI), alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use. A correlation analysis was used to explore the relationship between EI and the use of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco among college students (n = 199). EI abilities (perception, utilization, understanding, and regulation of emotions) were measured in college students who completed the valid and reliable Schutte Self Report Inventory (SSRI), the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), and the Marijuana Screening Inventory (MSI). The results demonstrated that El constructs (Perception, Utilization, Regulation, and Management of Emotion) scores were significant predictors of alcohol and marijuana use. An association between the El and cigarette smoking was not supported by this study.

BACKGROUND

The use of alcohol and illicit substances among youth have been studied by many (Diala, Muntaner, & Walrath, 2004; Dube, Feliti, Dong, Chapman, Giles et al., 2003; Gordon, Kinlock, & Battjes, 2004). Substance abuse in youth contributes to internalizing and other psychosocial impairment that sets the foundation for potential and subsequent drug and alcohol use in adulthood (National Survey on Drug Use and Health [NSDUH], (2006); King, Meehan, Trim, & Chassin, 2007). The National Adolescent Health Information Center (NAHIC, 2007) reported that the use of substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes, has tripled for adolescents and young adults in all racial and ethnic groups. Marijuana, for example, is the most frequently abused illicit drug in the United States, mostly among adolescents 12-years and older. Its use accounts for one third of the most mentioned abused drug in drug-related emergencies in emergency departments nationwide (National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA], 2007). Similarly, cigarette smoking among ages 18 to 25 is 39.5% (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2005).

The early use of illicit drugs increases risky behaviors that can lead to: contracting or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases, crime and violence, and chronic substance abuse and dependence (Burrow-Sanchez, 2006; Guiao, Blakemore, & Boswell-Wise, 2004; Miller, Naimi, Brewer, & Everett-Jones, 2007; Nanda, & Konnur, 2006). In the United States between 1998 and 2001, among 18 to 24 year old college students that drank or were binge drinkers, there was a significant increase in deaths, which out proportioned the increase in that population (Hingson, Heeren, Winter, & Weschler, 2005; Weschler, et al, 2002). Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2005) reported that the leading cause of motor vehicle-crash-related deaths among adolescents is associated with alcohol.

The yearly cost of substance abuse often includes multiple treatments through medical and detoxification efforts, criminal prosecutions, school dropouts, and lack of productivity (Adrian, 2001; Compton, & Volkow, 2006). Little is known regarding the total cost of substance abuse to the health care system, but the National Drug Intelligence Center (2011) reported the cost of substance use to be at $193 billion in 2007.

Researchers continue to explore ways in which to understand the underpinnings of substance abuse (Burrow-Sanchez, 2006; Dooley & Prause, 2006; Hampson, Andrews, & Barckley, 2008; Hollist & McBroom, 2006) and other risk behaviors among populations. They have focused attention to the application of social theories (Cooper, May, Soderstrom, & Jarjoura, 2009) and the linkages of theoretical perspectives in human behavior.

There is limited research on the theory of emotional intelligence (EI) (Bar-On, 2006; Goleman, 1995; Salovey & Mayer, 1990) as it relates to substance use and other risky behaviors among freshmen college students. …