Online Program

Examining generational differences in perceptions of youth substance use and implications for prevention in a metro-Boston suburb

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Reann Gibson, Institute for Community Health, Malde, MA
Adriana Bearse, MS, Institute for Community Health, Cambridge, MA
Emily Chiasson, MPH MSW, Institute for Community Health, Cambridge, MA
Youth substance use culture has changed markedly in the past 40 years. More youth now use a larger variety of substances, including synthetic drugs and prescription painkillers, which can be fatal when consumed in large quantities or mixed with alcohol. Parents and other adults play a critical role in influencing youth substance use, however, their lack of knowledge about current youth use patterns can limit their ability to communicate effectively. To help one local community in the metro-Boston area better understand perceptions surrounding youth substance use and to inform local intervention planning, focus groups and qualitative interviews were conducted with local youth, parents, and community stakeholders (n=48). Major themes across all groups highlighted the importance of examining generational differences in how youth and adults perceive youth substance use, and how these differences affect the culture of use today. Findings showed that many parents in this community are unaware of changes from when they may have been exposed to substances as youth, including the increased strength of some drugs and dangerous mixing patterns amongst youth today. Some parents view substance use as a normal stage in youth development, and findings suggested that adult substance use culture affects youth perceptions of responsible use. Youth and parents alike also expressed fear of being unable to relate to one another as a major conversation barrier. This presentation will present extensive findings and recommendations from this local-level assessment that can be used to inform prevention work in other communities.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Explain barriers in youth substance use prevention related to generational differences between youth and those providing education. Identify useful strategies for youth substance use prevention and overall strengthening of communities.

Keyword(s): Alcohol Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a research associate for 2 years and have focused mainly on evaluation and needs assessment activities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.