• Journal Article

The relationship between employment and substance use among students aged 12 to 17


Wu, L. T., Schlenger, W., & Galvin, D. M. (2003). The relationship between employment and substance use among students aged 12 to 17. Journal of Adolescent Health, 32(1), 5-15.


PURPOSE: To examine the association between employment status and substance use among students aged 12 to 17 years. METHODS: Secondary analysis of data from the 1995 and 1996 National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse was conducted. The survey is a primary source of data on licit and illicit drug use among noninstitutionalized Americans aged 12 years or older. Participants are interviewed at their places of residence. Multiple logistic regression procedures yielded estimated associations. RESULTS: About one in six adolescents reported both going to school and holding a job. Approximately one-fourth of students smoked cigarettes, and one-third consumed alcohol in the past year. An estimated 1.6% of students were current heavy cigarette smokers, and 2.6% were current heavy alcohol users. One-year prevalence estimates of any illicit drug use and heavy illicit drug use were 16.7% and 1.8%, respectively. Among students employed full time, prevalence estimates increased to 9.7% for heavy cigarette smoking, 13.1% for heavy alcohol use, 38.1% for any illicit drug use, and 5.0% for heavy illicit drug use. Logistic regression analyses supported relatively high rates of cigarette use, alcohol use, illicit drug use, and heavy substance use among working students. Mental health problems, especially externalizing behavioral syndromes, were found to coexist with the use and heavy use of substances. The observed associations varied somewhat by gender. CONCLUSIONS: The workplace may be an appropriate venue for establishing substance use prevention and early intervention programs focused on younger workers, including adolescents who work part time