The Connection between Behavioral Risk Factors and Abuse of Legal (Alcohol, Tobacco) and Illegal Psychoactive Substances (THC) among Zagreb Adolescents
Background: The aim of this research is to find a connection of certain behavioural risk factors and lifestyle with occurrence of so called legal (alcohol, tobacco) and illegal (cannabis, opiates, psycho stimulants) addictive substance abuse and to test which behavioural risk factors are more connected to certain addictive substances among Zagreb adolescents. The purpose of this research is to try to assist in designing preventive programmes which could lower behavioural risk factors for the purpose of decreasing abuse prevalence, i.e. to help adjust preventive programmes to the real needs of the environment we live in regarding the constant and dynamic changes of addictive substance abuse predictors.
Subjects and methods: The research was conducted on 2516 students of 8th grade elementary school and 1st through 4th grade of high school in the Zagreb area. The data was collected via standardized and validated questionnaire of the Service which was used in researches in the years 2001, 2005 and 2009.
Results: The results of the research point to existing connection between certain behavioural factors and lifestyle with the occurrence of addictive substance abuse as well as the differences between the consumption of so called legal and illegal addictive substances. In fact, it can be seen that the significant protective factor in legal addictive substances abuse was spending leisure time doing structured activities, compared to illegal addictive substances abuse where significant protective factor was a close relationship with parents. It has been confirmed that religion is an important protective factor and that the use of electronic media like watching TV, computer use, internet use and playing videogames were not significant factors for addictive substances abuse. The research also proved that adolescents who use addictive substances more often engage in delinquent and antisocial behaviour.
Conclusions: From the results of the research it is visible that there are some differences between the predictive factors in consumption of legal and illegal substances. The conclusions highlight the importance of structured leisure time filled with quality content as the protective factor in so-called legal addictive substances consumption prevention, which adolescents tend to experiment with first and also to help the parents in their role to achieve a higher quality relationship with their children through preventive programmes, which has also proven to be a protective factor in substances abuse.