Risky Behavior and Substance Use

"In commenting on problem behaviors among youth, Jessor and Jessor (1975) and later Jessor (1984) argued that adolescence is a period in which youth reject conventionality and traditional authority figures in an effort to establish their own independence. For a significant number of adolescents, this rejection consists of engaging in a number of 'risky' behaviors, including drug and alcohol use. Within the past few years, researchers and practitioners have begun to focus on this tendency, suggesting that drug use may be a 'default' activity engaged in when youth have few or no opportunities to assert their independence in a constructive manner (Benard 1994; gentler 1992; Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development 1992; Cato 1992; Maddahian et al. 1988; Pransky 1991). They note that in contemporary American society, youth have very few opportunities to participate in activities that allow them to develop a sense of independence and assume significant responsibilities. Such efforts must allow youth to exercise considerable control over activity development and implementation."


Maria Carmona and Kathryn Stewart, A Review of Alternative Activities and Alternatives Programs in Youth-Oriented Prevention (National Center for the Advancement of Prevention, under contract for the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, 1996), p. 5.