Prevention Science

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 725–735 | Cite as

Predictors of Disapproval toward “Hard Drug” Use among High School Seniors in the US

  • Joseph J. PalamarEmail author


Attitudes toward drug use strongly determine whether an individual initiates use. Personal disapproval toward the use of a particular drug is strongly protective against use; however, little is known regarding how the use of one drug affects attitudes toward the use of other drugs. Since marijuana use is on the rise in the US and disapproval toward use is decreasing, research is needed to determine whether the use of marijuana or other licit or illicit drugs reduces disapproval toward the use of “harder,” more potentially dangerous drugs. The Monitoring the Future study assesses a national representative sample of high school seniors in the US each year. This study investigated predictors of disapproval toward the use of powder cocaine, crack, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), heroin, amphetamine, and ecstasy (“Molly”) in a weighted sample of 29,054 students from five cohorts (2007–2011). Results suggest that lifetime use of cigarettes and use of more than one hard drug consistently lowered odds of disapproval. In multivariable models, lifetime alcohol use did not affect odds of disapproval and lifetime marijuana use (without the use of any “harder” drugs) lowered odds of disapproval of LSD, amphetamine, and ecstasy, but not cocaine, crack, or heroin. In conclusion, marijuana use within itself is not a consistent risk factor for lower disapproval toward the use of harder drugs. Cigarette and hard drug use, however, are more consistent risk factors. As marijuana prevalence increases and policy becomes more lenient toward recreational and medicinal use, public health and policy experts need to ensure that attitudinal-related risk does not increase for the use of other drugs.


Adolescents Social norms Attitudes Risk factors Illicit drug use Marijuana 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Population HealthNew York University Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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