Why Are They Using? Understanding the Role of Self-Control and Opprtunity in Adolescent Substance Use

Shayne Jones, University of Kentucky
Scott A. Hunt, University of Kentucky
Pamela Wilcox, University of Kentucky
Richard R. Clayton, University of Kentucky

One of the most widely researched theories in criminology over the last decade has been Gottfredson and Hirschi's General Theory of crime. In large part, the empirical findings support the General Theory. However, there are some unresolved issues that still need to be addressed. One is the role of self-control in explaining substance use among adolescent. The literature is equivocal in this area. Moreover, the role of opportunity continues to be under-studied and poorly operationalized. In this study, we address these issues by assessing the role of self-control, opportunity, and their interactive effects in explaining substance use among a sample of adolescents. Data are drawn from the Rural Violence and Substance Abuse Project, which sampled 4,000 adolescents located throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky. Results indicate that self-control and opportunity have both independent and interactive effects in explaining substance use among our sample. Implications for the theory and future research are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006