Adolescent coping strategies and onset of substance use

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University of Delaware
Adolescents use coping strategies, some beneficial and others harmful, to deal with stress and adversity. This paper will address topics related to coping strategies and the onset of substance abuse. Research questions examined relate to gender differences in coping strategies, as well as to whether or not coping strategies are related to the onset of substance use. Planning, emotional social support, denial, and religious coping will be examined as separate dependent variables. Independent variables are the onset of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use. For this study, data were drawn from The Adolescent Adjustment Project (AAP), a project directed by Dr. Christine Ohannessian at the University of Delaware. Students enrolled in public high schools in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, totaling 905 sophomores and juniors ranging in age from age 15 to 17, completed a self‐report questionnaire. Forty‐six percent of the participants were boys, while 54% were girls (Ohannessian, 2009). ANOVA results for religious coping were significant when tested with onset of alcohol (for boys and girls) and marijuana (for boys). Results of this study suggest that identifying relationships between coping styles and substance use may help identify effective and healthy coping strategies to forestall the onset of substance use.