Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Adolescent Peer Pressure, Leisure Boredom, and Substance Use in Low-Income Cape Town Communities

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Adolescent Peer Pressure, Leisure Boredom, and Substance Use in Low-Income Cape Town Communities

Article excerpt

The aim in this study was to determine whether or not peer pressure and leisure boredom influenced substance use among adolescents in low-income communities in Cape Town, South Africa. Nonprobability sampling was used to select 291 adolescents aged between 16 and 18 years who were attending schools in 2 low-income communities in Cape Town. The research instruments were the Drug Use Disorders Identification Test, the Resistance to Peer Influence measure, and the Leisure Boredom Scale. Multiple regression analysis showed that the combined influence of peer pressure and leisure boredom predicted substance use among the adolescents. Of the two factors, peer pressure was the stronger predictor of substance use.

Keywords: substance use, peer pressure, leisure boredom, drug use, risky behavior, adolescents.

According to international and national trends, substance use is a major social problem among adolescents (Degenhardt, Whiteford, & Hall, 2014; Toumbourou et al., 2014; Whiteford et al., 2013). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2012), in its World Drug Report, stated that substance use/abuse is a risk factor that has an annual prevalence rate, with the highest rate being recorded for alcohol (42%), followed by cannabis (5%), cocaine (0.5%), and heroin (0.4%). In South Africa, substance use among adolescents is a major public health concern (Dada et al., 2014; Pluddemann & Parry, 2012). Results of a 2008 South African youth risk behavior survey showed that 49.6% of the adolescents used alcohol, followed by cannabis (12.8%), heroin (11.2%), cocaine (6.4%), and mandrax (6%; Reddy et al., 2010). Mandrax (methaqualone) is a sedative, narcotic drug that acts as a depressant on the general nervous system. It is usually taken orally in the form of a tablet, but exclusively in southern Africa, it is usually smoked with cannabis (Uys & Middleton, 2004). Similar trends for use of the various types of substances to the figures reported from the 2008 survey were identified by Morojele et al. (2013) in their survey of Grade 8-10 students in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Substance use means having used a substance at some time in one's life without developing a specific substance use pattern (Edmonds & Wilcocks, 2001). A number of factors identified as being consistently related to substance use among adolescents are community, school environment, peers, family, and personal factors (Grobler & Khatite, 2012; Wegner, Flisher, Caldwell, Vergnani, & Smith, 2008). However, although the factors for risk of substance use are multidimensional, in South Africa substance use is rooted in the sociopolitical history (Flisher, Parry, Evans, Muller, & Lombard, 2003). Decades of institutionalized racism, systematic oppression, social inequality, and the resulting context of low-income communities have been identified as the driving force behind the high rates of substance use in South Africa. However, empirical researchers have shown an increase in risk factors, such as peer pressure (Allen, Chango, Szwedo, Schad, & Marston, 2012) and leisure boredom (Wegner, Flisher, Lombard, & Muller, 2006), as key factors in understanding substance use among adolescents.

Although researchers have suggested that peer influence manifests itself in both positive and negative behaviors (Padilla-Walker & Bean, 2009), only negative influences are discussed in this study. Peer pressure is formulated as a subjective experience of feeling pressured, urged, or dared by others to do certain things (Santor, Messervey, & Kusumakar, 2000). Erikson (1968), an early theorist, argued that adolescents attain a sense of belonging from their peers while, simultaneously, searching for, and forming, an identity.

In a significant body of studies, researchers have focused on the association between peer pressure and substance use (Peltzer, Ramlagan, Mohlala, & Matseke, 2007; Piehler, Véronneau, & Dishion, 2012). …

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