The Effects of Employment Among Adolescents At-Risk for Future Substance Use

Published in: Addictive Behaviors, v. 38, no. 3, March 2013, p. 1616-1619

Posted on RAND.org on January 09, 2013

by Karen Chan Osilla, Sarah B. Hunter, Brett Ewing, Rajeev Ramchand, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

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OBJECTIVE: This paper explores the association between work intensity, alcohol and/or other drug (AOD) use, and related risk factors and consequences among an at-risk youth sample that has received a first-time AOD offense. This study extends previous research focused primarily on school-based samples. METHOD: We examined the association between work intensity, AOD use, AOD-related consequences, and social environment among adolescents referred to a diversion program called Teen Court (N = 193). Participants were surveyed prior to the start of the Teen Court program. Mean age was 17 (SD = 1.1), 67% of the sample was male; 45% Hispanic or Latino/a; 45.1% White; 10% Other. RESULTS: Greater work intensity among these youth was related to greater alcohol-related negative consequences and greater contact with co-workers who engaged in risky behaviors, but it was not significantly associated with past month AOD use. CONCLUSIONS: Understanding the relationship between work intensity and AOD use among youth who are at-risk is critical to informing clinicians and public officials about the potential effects of employment in this population. Findings suggest that work intensity may be associated with negative consequences from alcohol use and increased contact with risky co-workers, all of which could contribute to the development of problems in the future.

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