Griffith- Lendering, M.F.H., Huijbregts, S.C.J., Huizink, A.C., Ormel, J., Verhulst, F.C., Vollebergh, W.A.M., & Swaab, H. (2011). Social skills as precursors of cannabis use in young adolescents; A Trails study. Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychology, 40, 706 – 714.
Cannabis use has been associated with several problematic outcomes, such as educational problems, use of other (illicit) drugs, deviant peer affiliations and mental health problems. Because of these adverse outcomes, it seems crucial to identify risk factors of cannabis use. In the present study we investigated whether multiple social skills (cooperation, assertion and self control) are possible risk factors of cannabis use during adolescence.
Social skills were assessed by teachers, in a longitudinal cohort of (pre-) adolescents, with measurements at average ages 11.1 (baseline) and 16.3 years (follow-up). Prospective associations with participants’ self-reported use of cannabis, (age of) onset of cannabis use, and frequency of use at follow-up were examined using multinomial logistic regression analyses.
Social skills predicted different aspects of cannabis use independent of better-known factors such as presence of externalizing behavior and use of other substances. The direction of associations depended on the type of social skill. Good cooperation skills during early adolescence were associated with a reduced risk of lifetime cannabis use and a reduced risk of using cannabis on a regular basis. On the other hand, assertion at age 11 increased the risk of lifetime cannabis use and of using cannabis on an experimental basis.
Concluding, the present study showed that specific social skills are differentially related to cannabis use. Positive results regarding prevention of cannabis are obtained by stimulating or suppressing social behavior, depending on the type of social behavior and its context.
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