Association of coping styles & adolescent substance use

Vi Donna Le, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Adolescent substance use is a serious public health concern with long-lasting consequences. Although specific coping behaviors have been associated with adolescent substance use, less is known about the role of multidimensional coping styles that account for both positive and negative coping behaviors. This study examined the association of coping styles and substance use (alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs) of 1,019 ethnically diverse high school students. Coping styles were categorized by high or low negative coping behaviors (e.g. distraction, social withdrawal, self-criticism, blame others, wishful thinking, resignation, and negative emotional regulation) and high or low positive coping behaviors (e.g. cognitive restructuring, problem-solving, social support, and positive emotional regulation). My hypothesis that high positive coping, regardless of the use of negative coping behaviors, would be protective against substance use was rejected. Logistic regression analyses controlling for age, gender, race, and parent education indicated that adolescents who relied primarily on adaptive coping were 45-67% less likely to report lifetime or past year substance use than any other coping style. However, mixed copers (i.e. high in both positive and negative coping behaviors) were 2 to 3 times as likely to report substance use than their adaptive coping counterparts.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Public health|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Le, Vi Donna, "Association of coping styles & adolescent substance use" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1529154.