The Relationship between Geographical Location, Indigenous Status and Socio-Economic Status and Adolescent Drug Use

Smith, Dianna (2005). The Relationship between Geographical Location, Indigenous Status and Socio-Economic Status and Adolescent Drug Use Master of Health Sciences Thesis, Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre, The University of Queensland.

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Author Smith, Dianna
Thesis Title The Relationship between Geographical Location, Indigenous Status and Socio-Economic Status and Adolescent Drug Use
School, Centre or Institute Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2005-01-01
Thesis type Master of Health Sciences Thesis
Open Access Status Other
Subjects 370107 Social Change
321200 Public Health and Health Services
380106 Developmental Psychology and Ageing
321207 Indigenous Health
Abstract/Summary Adolescence is a time of great changes, a time where experimentation and exploration is expected and when the values of authority figures are examined and challenged. Adolescents will experiment and push the boundaries of all aspects of their life in order to find their own place and identity in a world that has changed its expectations of them. Use of drugs is one of the ways that they do this. Australian adolescents grow up in a society where alcohol and tobacco is an acceptable part of daily life. Their use of drugs is at least on par with and in some cases exceeds that of the general population. The overall goals of this research were to gain more information on drug use of Australian adolescents, using existing data sets. This research examined, using a number of different age groups, the differences in adolescent drug use between urban and rural Australia for lifetime use, use in the last year and use in the last month using the 2002 edition of the Australian School Student Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey series in conjunction with the 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS). It also used these data sets to investigate differences between indigenous adolescents and non-Indigenous adolescents and whether there were any differences in adolescent drug use across socio-economic status groups. Four hypotheses were developed. The first was that rural adolescents are more likely than urban adolescents to use licit drugs and the second was that urban adolescents are more likely than rural adolescents to use illicit drugs. Thirdly, that Indigenous adolescents are more likely than non-Indigenous adolescents to use both licit and illicit drugs and the fourth was that adolescents from low socio-economic status (SES) groups are more likely than adolescents from high SES groups to use licit and illicit substances. The data offered little support for any of the hypotheses. The hypothesis on rural adolescents being more likely to use licit drugs was supported by the ASSAD surveydata but not the NDSHS. All other hypotheses were not supported by either of the data sets. While there are aspects of the information from the two data sets that are contradictory making it difficult to prove or disprove the hypotheses formulated for this research, they highlighted a number of aspects of adolescent drug use. The first of these is that this research supports the premise that rural adolescent drug use rates are converging with urban drug use rates for younger adolescents. It also highlighted that there are a large number of rural school students who are using alcohol and cannabis. The ASSAD data also confirmed other Australian research showing that Indigenous adolescents are less likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to use alcohol. Both data sets confirmed previous research by indicating that adolescents from the high SES groups are more likely than their counterparts in the lower SES groups to consume alcohol. Further investigation is needed to find out why the data sets did not substantiate each other and to gain further insight into the consumption of alcohol by Indigenous adolescents and adolescents from the higher socio-economic status groups. Increasing the samples of Indigenous people in both of the data sets and lobbying the Australian Bureau of Statistics to increase their sample for the Indigenous Social Survey to include 12-14 year olds should give more information on Indigenous adolescents that could be used in research and prevention activities.
Keyword adolescents
illicit drug use
urban youth
rural use

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Mon, 23 Oct 2006, 10:00:00 EST by Dianna Smith