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Educational Attainment and the Likelihood of Drug Use


KAYLA CZAPRACKI

Wilkes University 2013


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Introduction
The level of education one has is crucial in the decision making process within ones life.

Education is an important growth factor in forming a persons overall character. Knowledge

attained throughout life is used to make decisions that can benefit or harm you. One of the most

harmful decisions a person can make would be illegal drug use. The frequency level at which

illegal drugs are used is an imperative issue. It was estimated in 2011 that 8.7% of the

population over the age of 12, which is equivalent to 22.5 million Americans, had used an illicit

drug in the past month (Drug Facts: Nationwide Trends 2012). I will observe three categories of

drugs; amphetamines/barbiturates, cocaine, and marijuana. Marijuana is becoming legal in

several states for various reasons.

Besides recreational, marijuana has a conceived use for medicinal purposes. It can ease

symptoms of illnesses ranging from glaucoma to cancer, although that is not yet recognized on a

national level. Also, there are no known deaths from a marijuana overdose compared to the

thousands of deaths caused by legal prescription pills, cigarettes, and alcohol. Rather than

benefit the drug dealers, drug sale income has the opportunity to be an influx of profit to the state

through taxation. On the opposite spectrum, it can be argued that marijuana is a gateway drug to

other drugs.

Even occasionally dabbling in drugs can affect ones thought process and health. In some

cases, dabbling can lead to chronic use, and then addiction. It is unfortunate that some people

become addicted to drugs to the point where it takes over their lives and inhibits their potential.

One may question why some people choose to use drugs, while others can escape the drug

temptation, completely unscathed. Even some drug users can lead completely normal lives.

Investigation is required to see if the level of education a person has attained gives reason why
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people choose to use illegal drugs or not. Although this is an issue that has been investigated by

researchers in the past, there are still many unanswered questions and much more research to be

done on this topic.

It is necessary to determine if the relationship between drug use and education is a causal

relationship, where education is directly affected from drug use, or spurious, where education

completion and drug use just share common ground and are not directly correlated (McCluskey

et al 2002). There are also many other variables which need to be controlled for to see the true

effects of education on the decision of drug use. According to Robert Agnews strain theory,

there is also a possibility that academic failure causes drug use, rather than drug use causing

academic failure. This paper will investigate the relationship between the level of education a

person has attained and their decision to use illegal drugs.

Theoretical Perspective
Robert Agnews strain theory has overcome many attacks throughout the years and is still

a valued theory to this day. This theory looks at the relationship between the types of strain in a

persons life and attempts to give reasoning for criminal behavior. The theory presents three

major types of strain. These include;

Strain as the actual or anticipated failure to achieve positively valued goals.

Strain as the actual or anticipated removal of positively valued stimuli.

Strain as the actual or anticipated presentation of negatively valued stimuli.

Unlike social control theory which focuses on the absence of significant relationships,

and social learning theory which focuses on positive relationships with deviant others, strain

theory focuses specifically on negative relationships with others. It claims many negative

emotions, primarily anger, are caused by a negative relationship which pressures someone into
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crime. Agnew states that this pressure may be released in the form of 3 different actions; (1)

make use of illegitimate channels of goal achievement, (2) attack or escape from the source of

their adversity, or (3) manage their negative affect through the use of illicit drugs. This

provides a clear reasoning for how negative relationships and not being treated how you want to

be treated can drive a person to use illegal drugs (Agnew 1992).

Agnew defines a negative relationship simply as a relationship in which a person isnt

being treated the way he or she would like to be treated. The major type of strain is seen as

trying to achieve positively valued goals. Classic strain theories were focused on the obstruction

of a goal of a lower or middle class person of financial success in the future. Agnew builds on

this by saying not only are people concerned about that, but they are also concerned about

immediate goals. He uses the examples of good grades, popularity with the opposite sex, and

doing well in athletics for juveniles. He also mentions that strain can also occur from a person

being unable to legally escape uncomfortable situations (Agnew 1992).

A person can perceive strain as the failure to achieve positively valued goals. This

includes, (1) Aspirations and expectations/ actual achievements, (2) Expectations and actual

achievements, and (3) just/fair outcomes and actual outcomes. It is assumed that rational people

apply a variation of standards to whatever situation they face. It can be assumed that strain is

greatest when a persons expected outcome of a situation is not met. Agnew also states that

people have a deserved outcome in their mind. They expect this outcome to match what they

think theyre worthy of. If they do not receive what they view as equitable treatment, this can

cause strain and be a reason to act out (Agnew 1992).

In the event that one anticipates the loss of positive stimuli, one may turn to crime to

prevent the loss of stimuli, attempt to retrieve the loss of stimuli, obtain substitute stimuli, seek
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revenge on what removed the stimuli, or use illicit drugs to cope. According to Agnew, loss of

positive stimuli could include, loss of a significant other, death or illness of a friend, moving to

a new school as an adolescent, divorce/separation of ones parents, or adverse work conditions

(Agnew 1992).

A persons desire to avoid presentation of negative stimuli from their social environment

will only further alienate a person from society. This is done naturally as to avoid

discomfort. Agnew states that its not so much having to cope with presentation of a negative

stimuli, its the fact that they dont have the ability to escape being near it. This is especially true

in adolescence. This may lead to an escape when/if possible, eradication of the negative stimuli,

revenge sought against the persons causing strain, or using illicit drugs to cope (Agnew 1992).

Overall, the three types of strain presented cause a series of destructive emotions. The

three types can also overlap, which makes it difficult to determine which strain is truly at

work. Anger is an important emotion in this study which can trigger strain responses. Although,

it cannot be ruled out that other emotions dont have the same effect as anger. Depression, or

despair, can be a result of a negative relationship, and also play a part in strain

responses. Repeated strain can cause an overall hostile attitude towards others at any given time.

In the case of drug use, people use them to relieve the strains of everyday life (Agnew 1992).

Literature Review
Academic Performance and Drug Use
Schools that achieved better than average educational outcomes than others were

researched to see if it influences the risk for drug use and delinquency on adolescents. Research

suggests that school is an environment that is perfect for socialization and which influences good

and bad behavior. It is said that schools indirectly promote wellness through their environment
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and school organization rather than through direct education. Schools with those higher than

average educational outcomes are said to promote achievement more effectively than other

schools; this is called value-added education. Research also indicates that schools with higher

academic outcomes are associated with lower drug use and delinquent behavior. On the other

hand, due to their disadvantaged environments, ethnic minority schools are at an increased risk

for antisocial behavioral outcomes. (Tobler et al 2011).

Studies have shown that students with no history of drug use had higher average grades

than students with a history of drug use. What is interesting is that users see themselves as

poorer performers than non-users. Almost 70% of non-users claimed theyre doing better than

most compared to 38% of users (Dozier 1997). Another study found that students who perform

below average in school are more likely to use drugs. In turn, they become poorly attached to

school which could lead to becoming attached to antisocial activities. If antisocial peers become

appealing, this heightens the risk for drug use. (Henry 2010). Because a student is not meeting

their personal aspirations of achievement, drug use can result as a coping mechanism. One of the

three reasons for strain is not attaining ones perceived opportunities for achievement (Agnew

1992).

In the case of one of the most popular illegal drugs today, marijuana, results have shown

that students dont perceive marijuana to be all that dangerous. It was found that teen students

believed that two alcoholic drinks or five cigarettes a day is more harmful than smoking

marijuana occasionally. When surveyed, users of marijuana claimed that they believed they

could do their class work, pay attention to their teacher, and display improved schoolwork if they

were using marijuana at school. When looking at the relationship between the consumption of

various drugs and academic achievement of adolescents, it was found that adolescents who were
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under the influence of marijuana and cocaine showed a negative correlation with academic

achievement (Finn 2012).

It is possible that some motives of drug use could be triggered by ones academic

achievement, but other research believes that drug use is what affects academic achievement

(Jeynes 2002). Previous research has found that drug use may serve as a risk factor for poor

academic behavior. Drug use can serve as a distraction from educational focus points, such as

studying, paying attention and attendance. Because of this distraction, a student may feel fewer

obligations to continue going to school. This relationship can go hand in hand with academic

failure actually leading to drug use. It is possible that the two relationships may not be mutually

exclusive, as one can affect the other in a continuous cycle. Studies have indicated that there is a

negative correlation between academic achievement and drug use (Henry 2010).

Race and Drug Use


In regards to race, it was found that substance use was associated with a greater number

of classes failed, more retentions, and placement into special needs services in all races. When

adding the variable of race into the study, Native Americans were found to be the highest users

of drugs. Whites, blacks, and Asian Americans followed in descending order (Dozier 1997). In

recent years marijuana use has increased, and is one of the most frequently used drugs among

adolescents. Not surprisingly, the poorest academic behavior was with students who used

marijuana in school, followed by general users, with non-users showing the least poor behavior.

It was found that adolescent males also tend to use marijuana more than females. Findings also

support that any student using marijuana in general is a gateway to using the drug during school

hours (Finn 2012).

Hispanic students were found to have use marijuana the most with whites and then blacks

respectively. Hispanics also show the highest dropout percentage in high school out of all the
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races (Finn 2012). It was noted that the percentage of people with a high school degree has only

increased 3% in the last 25 years. The only group that the high school completion rate has not

increased for was Latinos. This may be because their culture has been held to a lower academic

standard than others (McCluskey et al 2002).

Premature Transitions and Future Earnings


The article investigated whether the relationship between drug use and dropping out of

high school is a causal or spurious relationship. Both causal and spurious relationships were

found to be relevant in this study. Previous research indicates the relationship is causal, in that

drug use has an influence on drop out risk even when holding other factors constant. Other

studies found the relationship to be spurious. Premature transitions were taken into account,

including teen pregnancy, parenthood, and marriage. Once those variables were examined, the

relationship between drug use and dropping out was found to be insignificant. One thing that

can be concluded from this study is that drug use in early adolescence increases the likelihood of

teen pregnancy, which had a direct effect on school completion. (McCluskey et al 2002).

A possible way to look at this would be the life course perspective. This perspective can

show that early substance abuse can interfere with normal trajectories and transitions which can

in turn lead to the taking on of adult roles prematurely. If an adult role is taken on too

prematurely, adolescents may find themselves without a high school degree which will lessen the

skills they have that are necessary to obtain a fixed and well-paying career. It was found that

illegal substance use can weaken the bond with family members. The bond one has with family

can predict school completion (McCluskey et al 2002).

Academic achievement is directly related to your earnings from a job. Recent research

has found a positive relationship between earnings and drug use. From an economic standpoint,

it is believed that drug use can alter ones perception so that current income can look more
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attractive than future income. This is because future income is so far in the future, and would

require finishing schooling. Since drug use is considered delinquent behavior, suspensions or

expulsions that result are also likely to reduce school achievement, which in turn affects future

income as well. Results had suggested that even after controlling for many factors including

socioeconomic characteristics and individual differences, drug use still has significant negative

effects on educational attainment. The average loss of schooling from drug use was found to be

one year less of formal education (Register et al 2001).

Single Parent Families


The relationship between adolescent drug use and single parent families was also

investigated. Drug use has been on the decline over the past 10-15 years but the rate at which

youth continue to begin using illegal drugs is alarming. It is not surprising that research shows

that adolescents who were brought up in a single parent household are more likely to show

delinquent behaviors and also drug use (Hemovich et al 2011).

Adolescent drug use serves as a predecessor of prediction for future drug use and

criminal activity. Children who were exposed to divorce or family disruption are more likely to

experience negative social and behavioral outcomes. Single parents have a harder time enforcing

the behavior system. This is because of the financial strain that is put on one person instead of

the norm of two to support a family. It is the parents job to teach children what society deems

desirable behavior and what is the norm for people (Hemovich et al 2011).

Over half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce (Min Lee & Kushner 2008).

Since divorce is so common, a child that is dealing with a parents separation can be seen as the

presentation of negative stimuli. Strain theory states that the presentation of negative stimuli can

be an initiator of strain (Agnew 1992). In a study, a significant relationship was found between

income and childs gender along with family structure affected parental monitoring (Hemovich
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et al 2011). It was proved that children who reside with one parent are more at risk of

experiencing negative behavior and emotional distress, thus increasing their chance of drug use.

This is because deprivation is more likely and also there are not two parents in the household to

be continually monitoring the child. Results found that the drug use risk for sons living with

either single mothers or single fathers showed no significance. However, daughters living with

single fathers risk of drug use were greater than those who lived with single mothers. Also,

older children conveyed greater lifetime use for marijuana and amphetamine use while younger

children showed a higher use of inhalants (Hemovich & Crano 2009).

This is interesting, because results of a study indicated that there are no benefits to an

adolescent when living with the same gender parent on academic achievement. In fact, the

opposite was found; Girls performed better when living with their father even more so than those

who lived with their Mother. This can be explained because there is a diminished friend role and

more of an authority role with the opposite sexes. Opposite genders often cannot relate on the

same level socially (Min Lee and Kushner 2008).

Demographics & Collective Efficacy


Urbanization has become the single most crucial demographic shift the world has seen.

Along with a change in environments, comes a change in drug use. This specifically has an

impact on what type of area one receives their education in. In history, drug use has generally

been associated with urban areas. An urban area has many definitions when categorizing by

population size or where it is located in relation to other towns, but it can simply be defined as a

place with a high population density. It is estimated that by 2030 sixty percent of the worlds

population will be living in an urban area which is an enormous difference from the five percent

that lived in urban areas at the start of the 19th century (Galea et al 2005).
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Depending on the area one lives in, the infrastructure, employment and education

options, among many other resources are vastly different. Areas of disadvantage do not have as

many assets as an area of advantage. Higher educated people are more likely to live in areas

near someone of the same status. Social relationships between people living near each other are

a strong predictor of drug use or misuse. Social networks are comprised of those who are

embedded in the area in which you live, and drug use is inherently a social activity. This also

applies people with income disparities. They may feel more stress and tension than someone

more privileged which in turn can increase the risk of violence or drug use. It was found that

area level disadvantage and residential segregation may be associated with increased drug use

due to an increased exposure to life stressors and social strain (Galea et al 2005). Strain theory

also agrees that when one does not meet their perceived expectations in life, the risk of drug use

as a coping mechanism increases (Agnew 1992).

Social capital consists of the relations between people that assist in action being taken.

Social capital can be defined as trust, willingness, and capacity to cooperate and coordinate, the

habit of contributing to a common effort even if no one is watching to have a payoff in terms of

aggregate productivity (Coleman 1988). Where social capital is highest, there is evidence of

reduced violence and firearm homicides. It only makes sense that people in areas with low

social capital and neighborhoods that are not closely linked by shared common goal are more

likely to misuse substances and partake in deviant behavior (Galea et al 2005).

Collective efficacy is an important factor directly linked to social capital. Collective

efficacy is perceived to be the willingness of neighbors to pursue a common purpose that will

directly or indirectly protect others. Where a person lives has an impact on the directives of

community goals in an area (Coleman 1988). In an area with high social capital, there is bound
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to be more collective efficacy as a community. If there is high trust and willingness to cooperate

between town members, then the more community goals they plan and achieve, and a stronger

bond forms. This leads to citizens looking out for their fellow neighbors and having a

willingness to intervene for the common good. In turn, it becomes a crime deterrent.

Conclusion
In conclusion, the goal of this research is to clarify the relationship between the levels

educational attainment and one choice to use drugs. While controlling for other factors, if there

is still a correlation between the two, it can be assumed there is a positive relationship. Much

research has been done on this topic, but there is still a vast amount of studies that need to be

done to clarify results. Educational attainment is a very important issue for each and every

person. Finding out how education dictates drug use is an imperative issue that will answer

many questions researchers and individuals have. Once questions are answered, only then can a

solution be created to the problem.

Hypothesis
The higher the level of education a person has, the less likely a person is to use illicit

drugs.

Thesis
Finding the connection between years of education attained and the use of drugs would

benefit researchers and society alike in deterring the use of illicit drugs.
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Methods
Data
The research used is the National Youth Survey from the year 1987. Youth data for the

seventh wave of the National Youth Survey are contained in this collection. This research

project, designed to gain a better understanding of both conventional and deviant types of

behavior by youths, involved collecting information from a representative sample of young

people in the United States. The first wave of this survey was conducted in 1976 (ICPSR 8375),

the second in 1977 (ICPSR 8424), the third in 1978 (ICPSR 8506), the fourth in 1979 (ICPSR

8917), the fifth in 1980 (ICPSR 9112), and the sixth in 1983 (ICPSR 9948). For this wave,

young adults were interviewed via personal interview in early 1987 about events and behavior

occurring in calendar year 1986, when they were 20 to 29 years of age. Data are available on the

demographic and socioeconomic status of respondents, parents and friends, neighborhood

problems, education, employment, skills, aspirations, encouragement, normlessness, attitudes

toward deviance, exposure to delinquent peers, self-reported depression, delinquency, drug and

alcohol use, victimization, pregnancy, abortion, use of mental health and outpatient services,

violence by respondent and acquaintances, use of controlled drugs, and sexual activity.

Measurement of Variables
Dependent Variables
The dependent variable is illicit drug use. Drug use was measured by: marijuana use,

cocaine use, and pill use. The pill category is the use of both barbiturates and

amphetamines. Respondents were asked, At what rate do you use marijuana? Responses for

this variable were coded with never using = 0, and one or more times = 1. Respondents were

asked, At what rate do you use cocaine? Responses for this variable were coded with never
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using = 0, and one or more times = 1. Respondents were asked, At what rate do you use

barbiturates? and At what rate do you use amphetamines? Responses for these variables were

coded with never using = 0, and one or more times for either drug = 1.

Independent Variable

The independent variable is educational attainment. This was measured by asking

respondent, Regarding past educational experience, what is the highest grade you completed?

Responses ranged from sixth grade up to the first year of grad school. The average grade

completed was 12.57. So the average respondent just graduated high school, or furthered their

education a small amount.

Strain Measurement Variables


Strain variables were used in support of Agnews strain theory. Drug use may be

influenced by anticipated failure to achieve positively valued goals, anticipated removal of

positively valued stimuli, or anticipated presentation of negatively valued stimuli. Strain was

measured in areas stemming from work, friends, family, and depression with 5 variables. The

family strain variable is a parents death, and friend stress variable is stress from friends.

Respondents were asked if there was a death of either of their parents in 1986. The variable was

coded into a dummy variable with 0 = no death, and 1 = death. Respondents were asked, How

much stress/pressure do you feel in relationships with friends? This was coded with 1 = very

little, through 5 = a great deal.


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Work strain was measured by asking respondents how dissatisfied they were with their

job, and the stress they feel from work. Respondents were asked, How satisfied are you with

your major job? This was coded with 1 = very satisfied through 5 = very dissatisfied.

Respondents were asked, How much stress/pressure do you feel at work? This was coded 1 =

very little through 5 = a great deal.

Agnew saw depression as a response of strain, which may give reasoning for drug use or

other crime. A variable was chosen to measure depression as a possible response to strain.

Respondents were asked, Have you been depressed for 2 or more weeks during the years 1984-

1986? This was coded 0 = not depressed, and 1 = depressed.

Control Variables
The six control variables used include sex, ethnicity, age, marital status, employment

status, and if the person has children. Respondents were asked their sex, and responses were

coded into a dummy variable with 0 = male, and 1 = female. Respondents were asked their

ethnicity, and this was also coded to a dummy variable with 0 = white, and 1 = non-white.

Respondents were asked their age in years as an open ended question. The average age of

respondents was 23.87. Marital status was asked, and recoded into a dummy IR variable with 0

= not married, and 1 = married. Respondents were asked, Were you employed in the year

1984? and Were you employed in the year 1985? Responses were recoded into a dummy IR

variable with 0 = employed for both years, and 1 = not employed for both years. Lastly,

respondents were asked, Do you have any children, including stepchildren? Responses were

coded into a dummy variable, 0 = no, 1 = yes.


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Results

Bivariate Results

I used a correlation matrix (see Table II) in order to show bivariate relationships between

each of the dependent, independent, and control variables. The independent variable, education,

is shown to have a significant relationship with all three dependent variables. The three

dependent variables include marijuana (r=-.14, p< .001), pills (r=-.13, p< .001), and cocaine (r=-

.10, p< .01). The directionality of these relationships imply that the higher a persons education,

the less likely a person is to have used marijuana, pills, and/or cocaine.

The independent variable, education, was found to have several significant relationships.

A significant correlation was found with ethnicity (r=-.12, p<.01), concluding that non-whites

have attained lower levels of education than whites. A negative but significant relationship was
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found with people who have children (r=-.21, p<.001), implying that people who have children

attained a lower level of education than those who do not have children. A negative and

significant relationship was found between education and employment (r=-.17, p<.001). This

can be inferred that the level of education attained was lower in unemployed persons than those

who were employed. There was a negative but significant relationship found with age (r=.31,

p<.001). This suggests that younger people have attained a lower level of education than older

people. A negative but significant relationship was found with stress from work (r=.13, p<.001).

People with a higher deal of stress from work tend to have attained a higher level of education

that those with little to no stress. There was no significant relationship found with age, marital

status, death of a parent, stress from friends, or job dissatisfaction.

The dependent variables also had significant relationships with variables. In respondents

with children, there was a negative and significant relationship found with marijuana and

cocaine. Those with children were less likely to use marijuana (r=-.11, p<.01) and cocaine (r=-

.10, p < .01) than those without children. There was no significant relationship found between

having children and the use of amphetamines or barbiturates. Sex was also found to be negative

and significant in marijuana and cocaine use. Females were less likely to use marijuana (r=-.13,

p< .001), and cocaine (r=-.10, p< .01) than males. There was no significant relationship found

between sex and amphetamine or barbiturate use. Marital status was found to have a negative

and significant relationship for all drugs. Married people were less likely than unmarried people

to use marijuana (r=-.22, p< .001), pills (r=-.18, p< .001), and cocaine (r=-.22, p< .001). With

ethnicity, age, and employment status, there were no significant relationships found with

marijuana, pills, or cocaine.


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Multivariate Results

Linear regressions were also used in order to further investigate the specific relationships

between the independent, dependent and control variables. Three separate hierarchical

regressions, each with four different models will be presented. Each hierarchical regression

corresponds with each dependent variable in the study. The models presented are as follows:

Model I shows the dependent variables individual relationships with the control variables,

Model II involves the control variables and the independent variable education, Model III shows

the control variables, education, and strain variables, and Model IV shows the control variables,

education, strain, and adds in depression.

Table III displays the hierarchical regression regarding the dependent variable marijuana.

Model I shows that Ethnicity has an influence on marijuana use (b= -.664, p< .01). This shows

that non-whites are 48.5% less likely than whites to use marijuana (Exp b= .515). Sex also has

an influence on marijuana use (b= -.510, p< .001). Females are 40% less likely to use marijuana

than men (Exp b= .600). Marital status was also found to be significant (b= -.986, p< .001).

Married people are 62.7% less likely to use marijuana than unmarried people (Exp. b= .373).

Having children, employment status, and age were found not to be significant. The R square

value of this model (.099) suggests that 9.9% of the variance in marijuana use can be attributed

to a combination of the control variables.

Model II demonstrates that education (b=-.186, p< .001) has a significant relationship on

marijuana use when holding the control variables constant. This shows that for each extra year

of education one has attained, they are 16.9% less likely to use marijuana (Exp. b= .831). The R
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square value of this model (.127) states that education accounts for 12.7% of the variation in

marijuana use, adding 2.8%.

Model III demonstrates that stress from friends had some positive significance on

marijuana use (b= .178, p< .05). As stress from friends increases, the person is 19.5% more

likely to use marijuana (Exp. b= 1.195). No significant relationship was found between the death

of a parent, job dissatisfaction, or stress from work on marijuana use. The R square value of this

model (.139) suggests that 13.9% of the variation in marijuana use can be attributed to the

controls, education, and strain variables, with strain variables adding 1.2%.

Model IV shows that when controlling for depression, there are no significant results.

The R square value of this model (.140) shows that when depression is added to the regression, it

overall accounts for 14% of the variation in marijuana use, independently contributing .1%.

Overall, the most important factor in the variation of marijuana use were the control

variables; specifically, marital status, sex, and ethnicity because they produced the highest R

square value. Education was the second most important factor, strain variables were third most

important, and depression coming last. Across the four models, ethnicity and marital status

stayed significant (p< .001). When controlling for education, the significance of sex dropped

from (p< .001) to (p< .01), indicating that one sex may have slightly more education than the

other, but this is rather a minor finding. Children, employment status, and age stayed

insignificant across the four models. Education stayed significant across Models II, III, and IV.

Regarding strain variables, stress from friends was found significant in Model III, and became

insignificant in Model IV after depression was added. This suggests a spurious relationship

between stress from friends and depression. This suggests that at face value a significant
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relationship appeared to exist, but disappeared when controlling for depression. All strain

variables were found insignificant in Models III and IV. Depression was found insignificant in

Model IV, and had no effect on any other variables.

Table IV illustrates the hierarchical regression concerning the dependent variable pills

(amphetamines and barbiturates). Model I shows that Ethnicity has an influence on pill use (b= -

.805, p< .05). This shows that non-whites are 55.3% less likely to use pills than whites (Exp b=

.447). Marital status was also found to be significant (b= -1.635, p< .001). Married people are

80.5% less likely to use pills than unmarried people (Exp. b= .195). Having children,

employment status, and age were found to be insignificant. Unlike the marijuana regression, sex

was also found insignificant with the use of pills. The R square value of this model (.100)

suggests that 10% of the variance in pills use can be attributed to a combination of the control

variables.

Model II demonstrates that education (b=-.218, p< .01) has a significant relationship on

pill use when holding the control variables constant, similar to marijuana. This shows that for
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each extra year of education a person has attained, a person is 19.5% less likely to use pills (Exp.

b= .805). The R square value of this model (.125) states that education accounts for 12.5% of the

variation in pill use, adding 2.5%.

Model III demonstrates that strain variables parents death, friend stress, job

dissatisfaction, and work stress have no significance on pill use. This is unlike marijuana users

in which use increases as stress from friends increases. The R square value of this model (.141)

suggests that 14.1% of the variation in pill use can be attributed to the controls, education, and

strain variables, with strain variables adding 1.6%.

Model IV shows that there were positive significant results found when controlling for

depression (b= .718, p< .01). This shows that if a person was depressed they were more than 2

times (105.1%) more likely to use amphetamines or barbiturates than someone who is not

depressed (Exp. b= 2.051). This is dissimilar from marijuana in which depression had no

significance on use. The R square value of this model (.160) shows that when depression is

added to the regression, it overall accounts for 16% of the variation in marijuana use,

independently contributing 1.9%.

The most important factor in the variation of pill use was the control variables;

specifically, marital status, and ethnicity because they produced the highest R square value.

Education was the second most important factor, depression was third most important, and strain

variables coming last. Across the four models, ethnicity and marital status stayed significant.

Children, sex, employment status, and age stayed insignificant across the four models.

Education stayed significant across Models II, III, and IV. All strain variables were found

insignificant in Models III and IV. Depression was found significant in Model IV.
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Table V illustrates the hierarchical regression concerning the dependent variable cocaine.

Model I shows that sex has an influence on cocaine use (b= -.452, p< .05). This shows that

females are 36.4% less likely than males to use cocaine (Exp b= .636). Marital status was also

found to be significant (b= -1.290, p< .001). Married people are 72.5% less likely to use cocaine

than unmarried people (Exp. b= .275). Having children, employment status, and age were found

to be insignificant. Unlike the use of marijuana and pills, ethnicity was found to be insignificant

with cocaine. The R square value of this model (.097) suggests that 9.7% of the variance in

cocaine use can be attributed to a combination of the control variables.

Model II demonstrates that education (b= -.161, p< .01) has a significant relationship on

cocaine use when holding the control variables constant. This shows that for each extra year of

education one has attained, they are 14.9% less likely to use cocaine (Exp. b= .851). When

education is held constant, sex became insignificant in this model which suggests a spurious

relationship. Since there is no significance in the correlation table between sex and education,

this cannot be an indirect relationship. This implies that there may be a difference in education
24

between males and females in Model I. The R square value of this model (.114) states that

adding in education accounts for 11.4% of the variation in cocaine use, adding 1.7%.

Model III demonstrates that strain variables parents death, friend stress, job

dissatisfaction, and work stress have no significance. This is similar to pill use, which also had

no significant results in Model III. These results are dissimilar to the findings of marijuana users

in which friend stress was found significant. The R square value of this model (.123) suggests

that 12.3% of the variation in cocaine use can be attributed to the controls, education, and strain

variables, with strain variables adding .9%.

Model IV shows that there were no significant results found when controlling for

depression. This is similar to the findings with marijuana users in which depression was

insignificant. Dissimilarly, when looking at pill users, depression had significant results. The

R square value of this model (.124) shows that when depression is added, it overall accounts for

12.4% of the variation in cocaine use, independently contributing .1%.

In general, the most important factor that accounted for the most variation of cocaine use

was the control variables; specifically, marital status, and only in Model I, sex because they

produced the highest R square value. Education was the second most important factor, strain

variables were third most important, and depression coming last. Across the four models, marital

status stayed significant. Sex was significant in Model I, and when education was added, it

became no longer significant in Models II, III, and IV. This may be a spurious relationship

because it did not stay stable across the models. Children, sex, employment status, and age stayed

insignificant across the four models. Education stayed significant across Models II, III, and IV.
25

All strain variables were found insignificant in Models III and IV. Depression was found

insignificant in Model IV.

Conclusion

Across all three dependent variables, the results of the data show that my hypothesis is

supported. As a persons education level increases, that persons likelihood to try marijuana,

pills, and cocaine decreases.

Results show that females use marijuana less than males, but not pills or cocaine. I feel

that females would use all drugs less than males, but during the time of the collection of this data

may have influenced this since cocaine and pills were popular at the time, but this idea cannot be

proven. Females smoking may also have been frowned upon or found unattractive. Results

showed that whites use marijuana and pills more than non-whites, but not cocaine. Non-whites

were less likely to use marijuana and pills than whites, but not cocaine. This could also be

attributed to the era of the data collection, or possibly an income discrepancy between races.
26

According to the results, having children or not was surprisingly unimportant with use of

all three drugs. A possible explanation for this is that the time of drug use was not collected. A

person could have tried or used drugs before they had children. Employment status also had no

effect on use of any of the three drugs. This could be an effect of the time of drug use

discrepancy also. It is possible the drug was used as a teen before they got a job, or they could

function while taking the drug and continued to work.

Results suggest that for each year a person ages, likelihood of use was not affected with

all three drugs. This can be attributed to lack of information about the time of use. Marital

status on the other hand was significant for use of all three drugs. Married people were much

less likely to use marijuana, pills, or cocaine because their significant other may not approve.

Or it may be that in general married couples are older and more mature, and possibly aged out of

drug use.

Regarding strain, stress from friends only affected marijuana use. I feel that this occurs

more in younger people to escape their everyday drama from friends. As a person ages, I feel

they would age out of this behavior also. Death of a parent, and work stressors were not

noteworthy. As a person ages, I think theyre more likely to relieve stress through alcohol rather

than drugs.

Depression can be an effect of strain in both men and women. This was predictably

found significant in pill use since barbiturates can induce a euphoric feeling and even sedation.

This may be a result of self-medicating as well as being prescribed these pills by a doctor. In

todays society, barbiturates have been replaced with safer drugs that are used for anxiety or
27

depression. Amphetamines are an upper, and may be used to offset the effects of depression.

Although different, both may ease the effects of depression.

One of the strengths of this study is that the hypothesis was supported. Although

correlation does not give causation, it implies that the more education a person has, a more

educated decision could be made regarding using drugs. Another area of strength would be that

the results clearly show the effects of three very different drugs that were separated to see the

effects of each independently. Marijuana is very different from amphetamines and barbiturates,

which are very different from cocaine. The three drugs are each used with a unique intent of an

end result or feeling, and are used for different reasons.

A weakness of this study was that drug use was measured on a one time basis. The

downfall of this is that one time users are grouped into the same category as people who use

drugs excessively. This may seem unfair, but I was interested in seeing the education level one

has attained when making the decision to use drugs that very first time.

Educational attainment may even be reached after drug initiation. But the higher the

level of education that is reached, the less likely use is to occur, or even re-occur. This leads to

another weakness, which was not including the time of drug use. I was unaware of when the

drug use occurred, which made some of the results ambiguous and insignificant. To avoid this

problem, I should have included data on drug use within the last month or year.

Also, the variables used as strain variables were not as significant as I hypothesized them

to be. Agnews strain theory can be related to many of the variables within the study. The main

reasons for strain in relation to drug use can be interpreted as follows: The anticipated failure to

achieve positively valued goals, such as not being able to further education or get a job because
28

of having kids, depression, or another reason; the anticipated removal of positively valued

stimuli, such as a death of a parent or loss of a job; or anticipated presentation of negatively

valued stimuli such as stress from friends or stress in the work place. Surprisingly, the stress

factor only influenced marijuana use when stemming from friends. All other strain variables

werent substantial, which could be a result of not knowing the time of drug use.

Policy Implications

Drug use is a problem that has been around for years since recreational use became

illegal. Ideally, eradication of illegal drugs would be the solution, but there is a miniscule chance

of this happening. This is because people can get them via a medical organization or grow and

create them themselves. Preferably, drugs would follow in the steps of cigarettes. Although

cigarettes are legal and were popular initially, after many years of use people finally realized

how bad they are to their health, and make a wise decision to quit or not use them.

Since not many unfixed variables were found to be significant besides educational

attainment and marital status, policy implications are limited. There is no way to encourage

marriage at an earlier age, and education is an individual decision. The best option in this case

would be to make sure people know what options are available and make them easier to reach.

Although not easy or quick, a probable solution would be to make higher education more

affordable. The more education available, the more educated decisions can be made in regards

to drugs and life in general. Drug use at an early age possibly occurs because of curiosity or that

they dont have enough knowledge of the topic to make an educated decision. The education

content cannot be examined, it is the years attained that would make a difference. An

intervention may be a solution for kids in middle school or high school who show notable signs
29

of drug use or lack of motivation. This would include assigning a mentor to students in distress

and possible counseling to help explain what options they have in life in regards to not using

drugs, their future and furthering their education, or even finishing their high school education.

Since drug use doesnt often occur just one time, catching the problem early in someones

education could make all the difference.


30

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