Life Stressors, Anger, and Substance Abuse Among American Indian Adolescents in Midwest: An Empirical Test of General Strain Theory

Xiaojin Chen, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Agnew's general strain theory (1985, 1989, 1992) has been tested since its development in the last decade. This theory, however, has seldom been applied to minority groups, such as American Indian adolescents. Using a sample of American Indian 5 to 8 grade adolescents, this analysis will attempt to test general strain theory by tracing the linkage among the measures of perceived discrimination, negative life events, family conflict, anger and depression, and early onset of substance abuse. Mediating effects of anger and depression was tested using structural equation models. High prevalence of life stressors, such as negative life events and perceived discrimination were found among these American Indian adolescents. Multiple indicators of life stressors were found to have positive effects on early onset of substance abuse directly or indirectly through expression of anger. Specifically, effects of inconsistent parenting on adolescents substance abuse were completely mediated through expression of anger; negative life events affected directly on substance abuse and indirectly through expression of anger; perceived discrimination, though resulted in negative affects such as depression, did not have significant effects on substance abuse. This study provided partial support to general strain theory.

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Updated 05/20/2006