Young people and illicit drug use : a health promotion model to differentiate abstinence or recreational drug use from misuse
The thesis is a study of illicit drug use and attitudes to drugs education amongst young people from different socio-economic backgrounds. The thesis reviews the existing literature and finds that there may be a link between poverty and drug use that hasn't been fully explored and that there has been a lack of attention to young people's perspectives and views on drug use. The findings are reported of an empirical research project that consisted of quantitative and qualitative research with 206 young people in five different settings: at university, in a youth club, in schools, in a pupil referral unit, and service for young offenders. The data from these different sources are analysed and a conceptual model has been developed, setting out some factors that are indicative of problematic or non-problematic drug use. The model was circulated amongst a small group of professionals in relevant fields for comment. The thesis concludes that young people in university settings reported using illicit drugs recreationally and apparently without problems, while the 'vulnerable' young people reported using more drugs, at an earlier age, and more frequently, and for reasons to do with boredom, depression and anxiety. The author suggests that 'vulnerable' young people are disadvantaged by their circumstances at home, including social deprivation and parental separation, and their lack of engagement with education. It is argued that health promotion models need to recognise the importance of contextual and broader structural factors influencing drug use among young people, and that health promotion efforts need to play a role in tackling inequalities and reducing deprivation, as well as making health promotion messages relevant to their target audience.