Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 2009

Abstract

A wide variety of theoretical perspectives have been found to have an association with substance abuse. Most of these studies use data from samples of public school students and thus capture only part of the youth population. Using data from approximately 800 delinquents incarcerated in a Midwestern state, we examine the association between attitudes about drug and alcohol use and use of drugs and four theoretical perspectives: nonsocial reinforcement theory, social learning theory, social control theory, and strain theory. Our findings suggest that nonsocial reinforcement is the best predictor of both preference for and use of illegal substances among this sample, followed closely by social learning theory. Implications for policy and future research are also discussed.

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