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Drug & alcohol use falls when personal sense of purpose and meaning is strong

November 8, 2011
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feeling goodUniversity of Michigan researchers issued findings last week at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Washington on a complex issue: Purpose and meaning in life have been linked to higher levels of psychological well-being, yet the association between purpose and meaning and alcohol and other drug use (AOD) remains unexamined.

Researchers examined the direct influence of purpose and meaning on AOD use during young adulthood.

Furthermore, given the longstanding relationship between psychological well-being and AOD, they also tested the indirect association (via psychological well-being) between purpose and meaning and AOD.

Using an adapted web-version of Respondent-Driven Sampling (webRDS), a sample of young adults (ages 18-24; N = 3,400) were recruited for a web survey. Participants responded to socio-demographic questions and scales examining purpose and meaning in life, general psychological well-being (e.g., depression, anxiety), and past 30 day alcohol and marijuana use.

Multivariate regression was used to examine the relationship between purpose and meaning and alcohol and marijuana use. Researchers are currently examining whether the relationship between purpose/meaning in life and AOD use is mediated by psychological well-being in structural equation modeling analyses.

Results: After controlling for education, gender, and internet use, young adults who reported higher levels of meaning in life reported lower levels of alcohol and marijuana use.

Young adults who reported higher levels of purpose also reported lower levels of marijuana use.

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