Objectives: The main aim of this paper was to study the relationship between perceived risk and adolescents’ future intentions to consume three addictive substances: tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. In addition we compared the perceived risk of these three substances.
Method: Participants were 468 high school students (Mean age = 12.81; SD = .75; Range = 11-15 years), half of which were girls.
Results: 25.4% of the participants had the intention to consume tobacco in the future, 61.3% alcohol and 8.8% cannabis. Tobacco was perceived to be very dangerous by 30.3% of participants, alcohol by 27.1% and cannabis by 75.5%. There was also a significant relationship between perceived risk and intentions to consume the substance in the future: participants who did not have the intention to consume the substance in the future perceived it to be more dangerous than participants who intended to consume the substance (tobacco: 34.6% vs. 18.2% / alcohol: 38.4% vs. 20.3% / cannabis: 80.4% vs. 26.8%).
Conclusions: The high percentage of adolescents who intend to consume these substances in the future is of great concern, as various theoretical models indicate that intention is a good predictor of future consumption. Tobacco and alcohol were perceived to be very dangerous by only one third of the adolescents surveyed, while cannabis was perceived to be very dangerous by 3 out of 4 adolescents. Perhaps the difference could be explained by the fact that the two first substances are legal to consume in Spain but cannabis is not. Furthermore, the relationship found between perceptions of risk and intention to consume indicates the need to raise awareness among young people about the danger of consuming these substances, so that they do not start consuming or quit it if they have already started.
Audience Take Away:
Health professionals should:
- Be concerned about the high prevalence of adolescents who had the intention to consuming these substances in the future.
- Try to increase the perceived risk of consuming substances like tobacco or alcohol among adolescents, even though these are legal.