The Decline of Substance Use in Young Adulthood: Changes in Social Activities, Roles, and Beliefs

By Jerald G. Bachman; Patrick M. O'Malley et al. | Go to book overview

3
Examining Mediating
Variables—Sample
Characteristics and Analysis
Strategies

As stated in chapter 1 and illustrated in Fig. 1.1, our task in this book is to explore why the new freedoms and responsibilities of young adulthood may cause changes in substance use. We focus on four categories of mediating variables: importance of religion and frequency of attendance at services (chap. 4); recreational behaviors including evenings out in general, and parties and going to bars in particular (chap. 5); perceived risks and disapproval associated with use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine (chap. 6); and perceptions of friends' use of these substances, as well as perceived availability of marijuana and cocaine (chap. 7).

In earlier research, each of these categories of potential mediating variables showed substantial correlations with substance use, particularly among adolescents. What is not so well established is how these factors change with age during young adulthood, and to what extent shifts in these variables are linked with shifts in drug use. Thus, for example, it is well known that adolescents for whom religion is very important are unlikely to be involved in substance use, but it is less well known whether changes in religiosity during young adulthood are accompanied by changes in sub-

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