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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


LATIMER, William W.; ROJAS, Vanessa Cecilia  and  MANCHA, Brent Edward. Severity of alcohol use and problem behaviors among school-based youths in Puerto Rico. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.23, n.5, pp.325-332. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: The present study sought to: (a) categorize youths into groups based on their level of alcohol use and number of symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), and (b) examine whether these categories were associated with other problem behaviors in which youths engage (marijuana use, sexual intercourse, and having been arrested or having trouble with the law). METHODS: The study is based on a cross-sectional survey administered to 972 school-based youths from one middle school and one high school in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Youths were categorized based on their alcohol use and alcohol problems. These categories were then examined for associations with lifetime marijuana use, lifetime sexual intercourse, and having been arrested or having had trouble with the law in the past year. The original eight categories of alcohol use were collapsed into six categories based on the results. RESULTS: For virtually every group characterized by higher severity of alcohol use and alcohol problems, researchers found an increasing prevalence of marijuana use in their lifetimes, increasing odds of sexual intercourse in their lifetimes, and having had trouble with the law in the past year. CONCLUSIONS: Knowing about variations in alcohol use and alcohol problems may be instrumental in measuring the degree to which youths may also be engaging in a range of other elevated risk behaviors and a progression to more serious forms of alcohol and drug use.

Keywords : Adolescent behavior; alcohol-related disorders; alcoholism; classification; risk behaviors; Puerto Rico.

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