Society of African Journal Editors

African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies

Perceived Discrimination and Social Identity as Adolescents' Pathways to Early Substance Use

Authors: IFA Ottu, AAO Oladejo

Journal: African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies

This study investigated the influence of discrimination and social identity on adolescent’s substance use in selected secondary schools in Ibadan – an investigation predicated on the argument that angry, maladaptive and externalizing behaviours such as substance use could emerge from sustained social hostility and one’s identity confusion. Three hundred and forty-six (346) adolescents were randomly selected from four schools to take part in the study. Results of univariate analysis show that social stress associated with perceived and actual discrimination led highly discriminated adolescents to report high levels of substance use compared to adolescents who  experienced low levels of discrimination (F=8.84, df=1, 338, p<.001). Also, adolescents’  social  identity did not show significant influence on substance use but a tendency to use drugs among adolescents with low social identity compared to those with high social identity reported. This situation suggests the experience of identity confusion by adolescents who experience group hostility and discrimination. Also, a comparison of gender on drug use reveals males using more drugs than females (F=14.10, df=1, 338, p<.001). Based on these outcomes it was  recommended that several social and governmental organizations starting from families should work together in the enlightenment of adolescents and the general populace on the need to respect the rights of every individual and live harmoniously. With this, adolescents will share more social acceptance and reduce the frequency of involvement in emotion-regulated substance use and other maladaptive and externalizing behaviours. Key Words : Discrimination, Social Identity, Adolescents, Substance Use