Substance Abuse in Middle Eastern Adolescents Living in Two Different Countries: Spiritual, Cultural, Family and Personal Factors
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It is estimated that the percentage of students using illicit substances by sixth grade has tripled over the last decade not only in developed countries but in developing countries as well probably due to the transition to a more Western society. Although much has been done to understand the mechanisms underlying substance abuse, few studies have been conducted with minority ethnic and religious groups such as Middle Eastern Youth. The primary goal of this study was to determine whether there are differences in factors contributing to substance abuse in adolescents from Lebanon versus the USA and to decipher the role of spirituality, religion, and culture among other factors that may influence substance abuse. A correlational cross-sectional design was used with adolescents living in two different countries: Los Angeles, California and Beirut, Lebanon. Muslim adolescents had significantly less rates of alcohol and substance use than Christians in both Lebanon and Los Angeles. More years lived in the USA increases the likelihood of abuse for both Muslims and Christians. Attachment to God and family was negatively associated with substance abuse. These results among others facilitate a better understanding of the influence of culture, religion, family and personal factors on substance abuse. Culturally sensitive interventions could benefit from the findings of this pilot study.