Marijuana abuse in incarcerated adolescents: Reasons for use and implications for treatment

Rebecca Lebeau, University of Rhode Island


Preliminary work in detention indicates that a substantial number (83%) of adolescents are reporting daily marijuana use (Stein et al., 2006). This research attempted to gain a better understanding of the reasons for marijuana use among incarcerated adolescents. The design and intent of this study was to extend basic knowledge of the reasons for marijuana use, establish factors related to marijuana use, and examine if relaxation therapy reduces marijuana use in those who use as a way to regulate emotions. ^ Incarcerated adolescents (n=189) age 14-19 (M=17 years), adjudicated between January 2001 and September 2005 were included in the study if they reported marijuana use prior to their incarceration. Of the 189 participants, 86% were boys, 32.8% White, 29.1% Hispanic/Latino, 28% African American, and 10.1% other. ^ A principal components analysis (PCA) investigated variables that correlate to explain reasons for marijuana use. The PCA did not reveal separate factors for marijuana use. In order to continue testing the hypotheses for the study, items from the Brief Situational Confidence Questionnaire-Marijuana (BSCQ-M) were calculated to form a negative affect and a positive affect variable. Although most of the analyses did not confirm the hypotheses a few significant findings were revealed; incarcerated adolescents who were in the negative affect group report higher averages of weekly marijuana use and a higher number of days using marijuana at 3-month follow-up than did those who were not in the negative affect group. While those in the positive affect group reported more days of use in the past 3-months, there was no difference in the average number of "joints" smoked per week in the past 3 months. Additionally, females reported a more significant family history of drug use and were more likely to report that they perceive that marijuana has bad effects on a person, compared to males. ^ Further research is needed to examine the reasons for marijuana use among incarcerated adolescents to inform and streamline treatment needs and should include investigating differences in terms of gender and ethnicity. These findings can assist in the development and implementation of future marijuana treatment efforts with incarcerated adolescents. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Rebecca Lebeau, "Marijuana abuse in incarcerated adolescents: Reasons for use and implications for treatment" (2007). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3276992.