Some recent research has indicated that boys who have social difficulties are at higher risk for substance abuse. The research is published in the Journal of Early Adolescence and summarized in an article on StudyFinds website by Ben Renner.
The article states, “Boys entering the sixth grade with simultaneously occurring social skill, anxiety, conduct, and learning problems are at the greatest risk of developing more aggressive behavior and becoming regular users of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana by the end of eighth grade, a study by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign finds.”
“While substance use among all boys in the study population increased over time, it increased the fastest among boys who had the greatest social skills needs,” says University of Illinois social work professor Kevin Tan, the principal investigator of the study, in a university release.”
This study looked at 4 social domains: social skills, anxiety, learning and conduct, and they found that adolescent males who had serious problems in these domains were more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors and substance abuse by the end of eighth grade. Here is the link to this summary of the research:
This sounds an alarm for teachers, schools, parents and caregivers to work strategically with male adolescents who have noticeably significant issues in these social skills. We also need to have raised awareness for those who struggle with anxiety, learning issues and conduct according to the study.
Early detection is the first step to preventing other life problems. Those who are in relationship with our young males have a significant opportunity to provide mentoring and guidance that can mitigate some of these issues by working strategically with them on their social skills, providing help with their anxiety and learning deficiencies. It is so much more effective to deal with these issues early in life so that the severe consequences like drug abuse do not become part of the teenager’s life.
At Lakeside we are providing this kind of support to our male adolescent students. We see the impact to their lives throughout the year as we help them overcome some of these obstacles. It is life-changing for our staff to work through these issues with them. As we watch our students graduate or go back to their school and community successfully we can see how these interventions can prevent further descent into coping strategies that are destructive and life-dominating. This research validates that the more attuned and aware we are to some of these personal needs and issues, the better we will be able to prevent ensuing life tragedies.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO