The Role of Cultural Norms in the Self-Esteem and Drug Use Relationship

By Moore, Sarah; Laflin, Molly T. et al. | Adolescence, Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

The Role of Cultural Norms in the Self-Esteem and Drug Use Relationship


Moore, Sarah, Laflin, Molly T., Weis, David L., Adolescence


A commonly held belief by many researchers, teachers, school administrators, and health professionals is that low self-esteem (SE) is associated with drug use and/or abuse (Dielman, Campanelli, Shope, & Butchart, 1987; Dielman, Leech, Lorenger, & Horvath, 1984; Steffenhagen & Steffenhagen, 1985; Wright & Moore, 1982; Young, Werch, & Bakema, 1989). That is, a poor self-concept and low evaluations of one's self worth are posited to be related to, and, moreover, cause tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and/or other drug use. Proponents of this belief hold that because tobacco, alcohol, and other types of drugs are harmful, only those with low self-worth would be inclined to ingest such substances. Accordingly, many drug prevention and treatment efforts have been directed at enhancing the SE of youth (Dielman et al., 1984; Schroeder, Laflin, & Weis, in press).

Empirical research examining the SE-drug and alcohol use/abuse relationship has been mixed, with some studies reporting a statistically significant relationship between these two variables, and others failing to find such a relationship. For example, Steffenhagen and Steffenhagen (1985) found no significant correlation between SE and alcoholism, but did find a significant correlation between depression and alcoholism. Wright and Moore (1982) found a statistically significant relationship between SE and drug use, although they found a stronger relationship between drug use variables and general life satisfaction than the drug use measures and SE. Dielman et al. (1984) likewise concluded that the relationship between SE and drug use, although statistically significant, was not large enough to suggest that intervention programs be directed toward the enhancement of SE. Similarly. Dielman et al. (1987) reported significant bivariate correlations between drug use variables and "family," "peer," and "school adjustment" indices of SE. For any of the correlations, however, SE accounted for no more than 4% of the variance in drug use. Thus although statistically significant, the small effect size raises questions about the practical importance of the association.

Researchers in other studies, however, have concluded that SE is not only statistically significant, but meaningful and useful in the prediction of drug use. For example, Young et al. (1989) measured three types of SE in over 2,000 4th to 9th graders: school SE, home SE, and peer SE. They reported significant differences in 18 of 19 drug use variables for home and school SE, but not peer SE. These researchers concluded that examination of specific facets of SE would be a useful avenue for future research.

In a recent review of the literature that examined the relationship between SE and drug use, Schroeder et al. (in press) concluded that much of the research was fraught with conceptual and methodological shortcomings such as poor measurement of both SE and drug use, failure to consider confounding variables, and the inappropriate inference of causality from correlational data. On the basis of their review, these researchers concluded that the effects of SE on drug use/abuse is inconsistent, and when the relationship is statistically significant, the effects are minimal. Thus, drug prevention efforts directed at SE enhancement are unlikely to prove fruitful.

Nevertheless, the association between SE and drug use is intuitively appealing and persists in the literature. Moreover, given the conceptual and methodological shortcomings outlined by Schroeder et al. (in press), and noted by others (e.g., Bingham, 1983; Gilberts, 1983), failure to find significant relationships may be due to poor methodology. That is, true absence of a relationship between two variables is but one reason for failure to find a relationship between SE and drug use. Poor measurement, treatment contamination, low power, lack of variance in the variables, and poor modeling of the relationship between the variables are but a few reasons for failure to find statistical significance between two or more variables.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Role of Cultural Norms in the Self-Esteem and Drug Use Relationship
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.