This research aimed at identifying patterns of substance abuse among South African adolescents and exploring the relationship between psychological well-being and substance abuse. A thorough understanding of the numerous aetiologies suggested to account for substance abuse were set out at the beginning of the study, as these are crucial to the effective understanding of any high risk behaviour. Psychological well-being was examined as a psychological construct so as to allow for a proper understanding of the term. In this study, 1 918 learners from 13 schools in the Tshwane area participated. The sample consisted of learners from 12 to 19 years of age, 802 males and 1 005 females, from Indian, Coloured, White and Black cultural groups. The students completed a life skills questionnaire that comprised of a Psychological Well-Being Scale, the Life Satisfaction Questionnaire as well as various questions regarding high risk behaviours including substance use. A factor analysis was used to explore characteristics of the Psychological Well-Being Scale. It was found to be a reliable measure for this sample group. Self-report substance abuse patterns of the respondents were recorded. It was found that substance abuse (drinking, binge drinking, drug use) increases with age and that nearly twice as many male adolescents abuse substances. Culture was found to be a determining factor with regard to drinking and binge drinking, however, it was not found to influence drug use. In multifactorial analyses of variance it was found that both psychological well-being and life satisfaction had a significant relationship with drug abuse although no causality can be attributed from the results. Engel’s Biopsychosocial Model and Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model were used to explain the complexity of the relationship between psychological well-being and substance abuse. Both models highlighted that in order to understand the adolescent, it is crucial to examine his or her cultural and familial behaviours that support their high risk activities.
Dissertation (MA (Clinical Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.