Substance use among South Korean adolescents is prevalent, as it is in their counterparts in Western nations (Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 2002). In South Korea, approximately 70% of middle and high school students report alcohol use, about 29% smoke cigarettes, and 10% use other drugs (National Youth Commission, 2002).
Despite the recognition that substance use among adolescents is common, adolescent substance use is not an issue of major concern in South Korea; until recently, there were only limited public efforts to resolve this growing problem.
In 2005, the Korean Government established The National Youth Commission with a mandate to propose general policy and program initiatives for adolescents in trouble, with substance use as one issue to be addressed. However, program development has been hampered by lack of data on adolescents' substance use.
As shown in previous studies, several factors influence adolescent substance use, ranging from individual to social-environmental factors. These include gender, age, substance use by family members, physical abuse within the family, peer substance use, peer pressure, and school-related problems (Kandel, Kessler, & Margulies, 1978; Johnson et al., 1990; Dryfoos, 1990; Bauman & Ennett, 1996; Diaz, Dusenbury, Botvin, & Farmer-Huselid, 1997; Clark, Lesnick, & Hegedus, 1997; Kim, 1997; Santor, Messervey, & Kusumakar, 2000; Brook, Brook, Gordon, Whiteman, & Chen, 1990; Wright & Fitzpatrick, 2004; Kim, 2004; Johnson, Whitbeck, & Hoyt, 2005; Rice, Milburn, Rotheram-Borus, Mallett, & Rosentahl, 2005; Thompson, Zittel-Palamara, & Forehand, 2005). Of these factors, parental alcoholism and peer substance use are the most predictive for adolescent substance use (Diaz et al., 1997; Graves, Fernandez, Shelton, Frabutt, & Williford, 2005; Urberg, Goldstein & Toro, 2005).
Alcoholic parents are behavioral models for adolescents and may be predictive for youth substance use (Brook et al., 1990). Previous studies reported that adolescents in families where parents use alcohol at a high rate are more likely to use substances (Barrett, 1990; Johnson et al., 1990; Johnson et al., 2005).
Substance use by an adolescent's peer group is another strong predictor. Several studies have shown that adolescents with friends who use alcohol are more likely to use alcohol themselves (Andrews, Tildesley, Hops, & Li, 2002; Henry, Slater, & Oetting, 2005; Ennett & Bauman, 1993). In fact, a relationship with a delinquent peer group enables adolescents to maintain a permissive perspective on substance use, which in turn increases acceptance and participation in risky behaviors (Wright & Fitzpatrick, 2004). According to peer cluster theory, as much as half the variance in substance use is predicted by peer group association (Oetting & Beauvais, 1986). Many studies report that peer pressure is a strong predictor of such risky behaviors as substance use, delinquency, and poor school performance (Kim, 2004; Bauman & Ennett, 1996; Santor et al., 2000; Johnson et al., 2005; Rice et al., 2005). Nearly 30 years ago Kandel et al. (1978) found that pressure from a best friend had the strongest effect on substance use.
There is ongoing debate among researchers on the influence of social support from family and friends on substance use by adolescents. Youths with greater parental support tend to participate in fewer negative anti-social behaviors (Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992.).This predictive relationship can be explained by social control theory (Hirschi, 1969; Tornberry, 1987), which states that close relationships through social support can have positive influence on adolescent drinking. That is, without social solidarity, adolescents would participate in more delinquent activities. This theory emphasizes that parental support has a mitigating effect on negative peer influence. …