Exploring gender differences in the vulnerability towards drug abuse among adolescents in Malaysia

Wan Shahrazad Wan Sulaiman*    -  (Scopus ID 36609474500), Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Mohammad Rahim Kamaluddin    -  (Scopus ID 56131703800) Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Ezarina Zakaria    -  (Scopus ID 56287502900) Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Fauziah Ibrahim    -  (Scopus ID 36607826700) Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Nazirah Hassan    -  (Scopus ID 57211334200) Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Jamiah Manap    -  (Scopus ID 13408463000) Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Salina Nen    -  (Scopus ID 54584027000) Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Zainah Ahmad Zamani    -  (Scopus ID 36609739900) Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-Being, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Fatimah Yusooff  -  (Scopus ID 35095807900) Open University Malaysia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

(*) Corresponding Author

Protective and risk factors are important in reducing vulnerability towards drug abuse among adolescents. This study, therefore, aims to explore gender differences in such vulnerability in high-risk areas identified by the National Anti-Drugs Agency Malaysia. The study employs a survey design, with questionnaires distributed to 213 adolescents who fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The researchers developed the questionnaire and comprised five parts: the demographic profile, interpersonal conflict, negative emotions, social support, and mental health. The data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The results show no significant gender differences in interpersonal conflict, negative emotions, and mental health. However, there was a significant difference in social support based on gender, with females showing a higher mean than males. These findings imply the importance of identifying the relevant factors to prevent early involvement in drug abuse.

Keywords: gender; vulnerability; drug abuse

  1. Anderberg, M., & Dahlberg, M. (2018). Gender differences among adolescents with substance abuse problems at Maria clinics in Sweden. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 35(1), 24–38. https://doi.org/10.1177/1455072517751263
  2. Association, A. P. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
  3. Becker, J. B., & Koob, G. F. (2016). Sex differences in animal models: Focus on addiction. Pharmacological Reviews, 68(2), 242–263. https://doi.org/10.1124/pr.115.011163
  4. Becker, J. B., McClellan, M. L., & Reed, B. G. (2017). Sex differences, gender and addiction. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 95(1–2), 136–147. https://doi.org/10.1002/jnr.23963
  5. Becker, J. B., McClellan, M., & Reed, B. G. (2016). Sociocultural context for sex differences in addiction. Addiction Biology, 21(5), 1052–1059. https://doi.org/10.1111/adb.12383
  6. Becker, J. B., Perry, A. N., & Westenbroek, C. (2012). Sex differences in the neural mechanisms mediating addiction: a new synthesis and hypothesis. Biology of Sex Differences, 3(1), 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/2042-6410-3-14
  7. Bliton, C. F., Wolford-Clevenger, C., Zapor, H., Elmquist, J., Brem, M. J., Shorey, R. C., & Stuart, G. L. (2016). Emotion dysregulation, gender, and intimate partner violence perpetration: An exploratory study in college students. Journal of Family Violence, 31(3), 371–377. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-015-9772-0
  8. Bobzean, S. A. M., DeNobrega, A. K., & Perrotti, L. I. (2014). Sex differences in the neurobiology of drug addiction. Experimental Neurology, 259, 64–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.01.022
  9. Camara, M., Bacigalupe, G., & Padilla, P. (2017). The role of social support in adolescents: are you helping me or stressing me out? International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 22(2), 123–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673843.2013.875480
  10. Carroll, M. E., Collins, M., Kohl, E. A., Johnson, S., & Dougen, B. (2016). Sex and menstrual cycle effects on chronic oral cocaine self-administration in rhesus monkeys: Effects of a non-drug alternative reward. Psychopharmacology, 233(15–16), 2973–2984. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-016-4343-5
  11. Gubbels, J., van der Put, C. E., & Assink, M. (2019). Risk factors for school absenteeism and dropout: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(9), 1637–1667. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01072-5
  12. Håkansson, A., & Jesionowska, V. (2018). Associations between substance use and type of crime in prisoners with substance use problems – a focus on violence and fatal violence. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, Volume 9, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.2147/SAR.S143251
  13. Heinrich, A., Müller, K. U., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G. J., Bokde, A. L. W., Bromberg, U., Büchel, C., Conrod, P., Fauth-Bühler, M., Papadopoulos, D., Gallinat, J., Garavan, H., Gowland, P., Heinz, A., Ittermann, B., Mann, K., Martinot, J.-L., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., … Nees, F. (2016). Prediction of alcohol drinking in adolescents: Personality-traits, behavior, brain responses, and genetic variations in the context of reward sensitivity. Biological Psychology, 118, 79–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.05.002
  14. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2015). Monitoring the future national survey results on drug use: 1975–2014: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.
  15. Jordan, C. J., & Andersen, S. L. (2017). Sensitive periods of substance abuse: Early risk for the transition to dependence. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 29–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2016.10.004
  16. Kachadourian, L. K., Pilver, C. E., & Potenza, M. N. (2014). Trauma, PTSD, and binge and hazardous drinking among women and men: Findings from a national study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 55, 35–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.04.018
  17. Khazaee-Pool, M., Pashaei, T., Nouri, R., Taymoori, P., & Ponnet, K. (2019). Understanding the relapse process: exploring Iranian women’s substance use experiences. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 14(1), 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13011-019-0216-3
  18. Lieberman, R., Armeli, S., Scott, D. M., Kranzler, H. R., Tennen, H., & Covault, J. (2016). FKBP5 genotype interacts with early life trauma to predict heavy drinking in college students. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 171(6), 879–887. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.b.32460
  19. Macleod, J., Hickman, M., Jones, H. E., Copeland, L., McKenzie, J., De Angelis, D., Kimber, J., & Robertson, J. R. (2013). Early life influences on the risk of injecting drug use: Case control study based on the Edinburgh Addiction Cohort. Addiction, 108(4), 743–750. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.12056
  20. Mandavia, A., Robinson, G. G. N., Bradley, B., Ressler, K. J., & Powers, A. (2016). Exposure to childhood abuse and later substance use: Indirect effects of emotion dysregulation and exposure to trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 29(5), 422–429. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22131
  21. N.A.D.A. (2018). Maklumat dadah agensi anti dadah kebangsaan, kementerian dalam negeri. National Anti-Drugs Agency Drug Information, Ministry of Home Affairs.
  22. N.I.D.A. (2014). Principles of substance abuse prevention for early childhood. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  23. Ólafsdóttir, J., Hrafnsdóttir, S., & Orjasniemi, T. (2018). Depression, anxiety, and stress from substance-use disorder among family members in Iceland. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 35(3), 165–178. https://doi.org/10.1177/1455072518766129
  24. Otiniano Verissimo, A. D., Gee, G. C., Ford, C. L., & Iguchi, M. Y. (2014). Racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and substance abuse among Latina/os nationwide. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 20(1), 43–51. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034674
  25. Perry, A. N., Westenbroek, C., & Becker, J. B. (2013). The development of a preference for cocaine over food identifies individual rats with addiction-like behaviors. PLoS ONE, 8(11), e79465. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0079465
  26. Rapier, R., McKernan, S., & Stauffer, C. S. (2019). An inverse relationship between perceived social support and substance use frequency in socially stigmatized populations. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 10, 100188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2019.100188
  27. Razali, M. M., & Kliewer, W. (2015). Risk and protective factors for recreational and hard drug use among Malaysian adolescents and young adults. Addictive Behaviors, 50, 149–156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.06.022
  28. Rickwood, D., Deane, F. P., Wilson, C. J., & Ciarrochi, J. (2005). Young people’s help-seeking for mental health problems. Australian E-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health, 4(3), 218–251. https://doi.org/10.5172/jamh.4.3.218
  29. Roblyer, M. I. Z., Betancourth, S., & Grzywacz, J. G. (2015). Risk and protective factors for lifetime marijuana use among Colombian emergent adults attending college. ISSBD Bulletin, 2015(1), 5.
  30. Rodzlan Hasani, W. S., Miaw Yn, J. L., Saminathan, T. A., Robert Lourdes, T. G., Ramly, R., Abd Hamid, H. A., Ismail, H., Abd Majid, N. L., Mat Rifin, H., Awaluddin, S. M., & Mohd Yusoff, M. F. (2019). Risk factors for illicit drug use among Malaysian male adolescents. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 31(8_suppl), 48S-56S. https://doi.org/10.1177/1010539519865053
  31. Schwinn, T. M., Schinke, S. P., Hopkins, J., & Thom, B. (2016). Risk and protective factors associated with adolescent girls’ substance use: Data from a nationwide Facebook sample. Substance Abuse, 37(4), 564–570. https://doi.org/10.1080/08897077.2016.1154495
  32. Silva, S. A., Silva, S. U., Ronca, D. B., Gonçalves, V. S. S., Dutra, E. S., & Carvalho, K. M. B. (2020). Common mental disorders prevalence in adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analyses. PLOS ONE, 15(4), e0232007. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0232007
  33. Smith, N. Z., Vasquez, P. J., Emelogu, N. A., Hayes, A. E., Engebretson, J., & Nash, A. J. (2020). The good, the bad, and Recovery: Adolescents describe the advantages and disadvantages of alternative peer groups. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 14, 117822182090935. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178221820909354
  34. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014).
  35. Sulaiman, W. S. W., Kadir, N. B. A., Halim, F. W., Omar, F., Latiff, R. A., & Sulaiman, W. S. W. (2013). Structural relations between personality traits, coping strategy, social support and well-being among adolescents. Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, 21(5), 121–134.
  36. Tam, C. H., Kwok, S. I., Lo, T. W., Lam, S. H., & Lee, G. K. (2018). Hidden drug abuse in Hong Kong: From social acquaintance to social isolation. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9, 457. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00457
  37. Tomlinson, M. F., Brown, M., & Hoaken, P. N. S. (2016). Recreational drug use and human aggressive behavior: A comprehensive review since 2003. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 27, 9–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2016.02.004
  38. Volkow, N. (2014). Harnessing the power of science to inform substance abuse and addiction policy and practice. In Paper presented to House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. National Institue on Drug Abuse.
  39. Wilson, H. W., & Widom, C. S. (2009). A prospective examination of the path from child abuse and neglect to illicit drug use in middle adulthood: The potential mediating role of four risk factors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(3), 340–354. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-008-9331-6
  40. Zapolski, T. C. B., Clifton, R. L., Banks, D. E., Hershberger, A., & Aalsma, M. (2019). Family and peer influences on substance attitudes and use among juvenile justice-involved youth. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(2), 447–456. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1268-0
  41. Zapolski, T. C. B., Fisher, S., Banks, D. E., Hensel, D. J., & Barnes-Najor, J. (2017). Examining the protective effect of ethnic identity on drug attitudes and use among a diverse youth population. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(8), 1702–1715. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0605-0

Open Access Copyright (c) 2021 Psikohumaniora: Jurnal Penelitian Psikologi
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Fakultas Psikologi dan Kesehatan 
Universitas Islam Negeri Walisongo Semarang
Jl. Prof. Dr. HAMKA, Kampus III Ngaliyan Semarang 50185 Central Java - Indonesia
website: fpk.walisongo.ac.id