Predictors of drug use among South African adolescents

Judith S. Brook, Neo K. Morojele, Kerstin Pahl, David W. Brook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To determine the association of frequency of illegal drug use with five groups of factors: environmental stressors, parental drug use, parental child rearing, peer drug use, and adolescent personal attributes. Methods: 1468 male (45%) and female (55%) adolescents, aged 12 to 17 years (mean 14.76, SD 1.51), were interviewed at home in Durban and Capetown, South Africa. Independent measures assessed environmental stressors, parental child rearing, parental drug use, peer drug use, and adolescent personal attributes. The dependent variable was the adolescents' frequency of illegal drug use. Results: Regression analyses showed that personal attributes and peer substance use explained the largest percentage of the variance in the adolescents' frequency of illegal drug use. In addition, both of the parental factors and the environmental stressors contributed to the explained variance in adolescent drug use above and beyond the two more proximal domains at a statistically significant level. Conclusions: Knowing the contribution of more proximal vs. more distal risk factors for illegal drug use is useful for prioritizing targets for interventions. Targeting changes in the more proximal predictors (e.g., adolescent personal attributes) may be more effective as well as more feasible than trying to produce changes in the more distal factors, such as environmental stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Drug use
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health


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