Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use in Young Adulthood: The Impacts of New Freedoms and New Responsibilities

Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use in Young Adulthood: The Impacts of New Freedoms and New Responsibilities

Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use in Young Adulthood: The Impacts of New Freedoms and New Responsibilities

Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use in Young Adulthood: The Impacts of New Freedoms and New Responsibilities

Synopsis

Why do some young adults substantially change their patterns of smoking, drinking, or illicit drug use after graduating from high school? In this book, the authors show that leaving high school and leaving home create new freedoms that are linked to increases in the use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. They also show that marriage, pregnancy, and parenthood create new responsibilities that are linked to decreases in drug use.

The research is based on more than 33,000 young people followed from high school through young adulthood by the nationwide Monitoring the Future project. Every two years, participants reported on their drug use, as well as their schooling, employment, military service, living arrangements, marriages, pregnancies, parenthood, and even their divorces.

The unique qualities of this research--large nationally representative samples, follow-ups extending up to 14 years beyond high school, and multiple approaches to analysis and data presentation--allowed the examination of several important influences simultaneously, while retaining much of the rich detail encountered in the real world. On the whole, the results are encouraging, suggesting that the potentials for change and improvement during the transition to adulthood are as important as the detrimental effects of problem behavior in adolescence. This research is a "must" read for anyone concerned with how new freedoms and responsibilities impact adolescents, young adults, and the use of licit and illicit drugs.

Excerpt

This book focuses on transitions into young adulthood--a critically important portion of the life cycle. Here we examine key roles and experiences of young adulthood--involving a wide range of new freedoms and new responsibilities--and how they are related to changes in drug use.

Our findings are based on the nationwide Monitoring the Future project, and represent the majority of individuals who entered young adulthood in the United States during the past two decades (i.e., the high-school classes of 1976 through 1994). We have tracked large samples of these young people from high school onward, surveying them throughout their twenties and into their thirties; more than 33,000 of them have contributed data for the present volume. We have asked our respondents about their schooling, employment, living arrangements, marriages, pregnancies, parenthood, and even their divorces. Each of these important aspects of adulthood has been examined for possible links with the use of two licit drugs, tobacco and alcohol, and two illicit drugs, marijuana and cocaine.

No survey research project, no matter how large or ambitious, could encompass all or even most of the "drug problem" in the United States. Any single study is necessarily limited in terms of the topics included, the survey methodology used, and the samples obtained. We mention limitations of the present study where relevant, and discuss them in some detail in chapter 3 and in the Appendix. We have tried to strike a balance in this book between providing too much and too little detail, but we recognize that some readers may have different preferences concerning what to analyze, what to emphasize, or both. We note, however, that some of the topics introduced in this book will be the subjects of further analyses and new reports; analysis of the Monitoring the Future data is an ongoing process.

HOW THIS BOOK IS LINKED WITH OUR
EARLIER RESEARCH

Several of the authors (Bachman, Johnston, O'Malley) gained their first longitudinal research experience while conducting the Youth in Transition project, which followed a single panel of young men from about age 16 (in . . .

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