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Regulatory Focus and Substance Use in Adolescents: Protective Effects of Prevention Orientation.

Franzese AT, Blalock DV, Blalock KM, Wilson SM, Medenblik A, Costanzo PR, Strauman TJ. Regulatory Focus and Substance Use in Adolescents: Protective Effects of Prevention Orientation. Substance use & misuse. 2020 Oct 20; 1-6.

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BACKGROUND: Substance use is a major risk factor for negative health and functioning outcomes among middle schoolers. The purpose of this study was to assess whether individual differences in the adolescents' goal orientation are associated with elevated or attenuated risk for substance use. Regulatory focus theory stipulates that individuals vary in their strength of orientation toward promotion goals ("making good things happen") and prevention goals ("keeping bad things from happening"). We sought to examine the association between individual differences in regulatory focus and adolescents' reports of their own and their friends' substance use. Participants were 241 seventh grade students who completed measures of regulatory focus (promotion and prevention orientation), self-reported substance use, perceived substance use habits of peers, and demographics. Logistic regression models were used to examine adjusted odds of lifetime tobacco use, alcohol use, and marijuana use for both participants' own use and their reports of friends' use. Prevention orientation was associated with lower odds of all self-reported lifetime substance use outcomes (tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana). Prevention orientation was also associated with lower odds of reporting all types of substance use among friends. Promotion orientation was not associated with any self-reported substance use outcome, and was only associated with higher odds of reporting lifetime alcohol use among friends. : These findings underscore the importance of regulatory focus as it relates to adolescent substance use. Future research may seek to incorporate regulatory focus within interventions intended to prevent or delay initiation of substance use in adolescents.

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