Substance use among adolescents: Fulfilling a need state

Arch G. Mainous, Catherine A. Martin, Michael J. Oler, Eric T. Richardson, Amy S. Haney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A factor that has received little investigation concerns the feeling state of need fulfillment and how this may relate to the significant public health problem of adolescent substance use. A survey of 823 students was conducted at a suburban public high school in the Southeastern United States. The questionnaire contained a scale focusing on fulfillment of adolescent needs, the Children's Depression Inventory, and items on current substance use. The results of t-tests indicated that the higher the adolescent is on the Need scale, the greater the likelihood of engaging in substance use (p < .05). Further, results indicated that cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana are associated with significantly higher scores on the Need scale for both males and females. Although the Need scale was significantly positively correlated with the Children's Depression Inventory (r = .45, p = .0001), the two feeling states were not collinear. However, the Need scale was not significantly correlated with age, indicating that the need state is not simply a developmental process (r = .04, p = .11). The results suggest that a feeling state of unfulfilled needs may propel adolescents into the destructive behavior of substance use. A state of high wants and needs that cannot be gratified simply in a complex society may be a precursor of substance use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-815
Number of pages10
Issue number124
StatePublished - Dec 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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