College of Psychology: Faculty Articles


Social Skills and Depression in Adolescent Substance Abusers

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Addictive Behaviors









The present study provided an assessment of social skills and depression in adolescent substance abusers hospitalized in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Level of social skill was evaluated using the Adolescent Assertion Expression Scale and the Loneliness Scale. Depression and related problems were examined through administration of the Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Hopelesness Scale, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Comparisons with normative values and clinical cut-offs (by gender) indicated that female adolescent substance abusers were less submissive and more aggressive than normative counterparts; male substance abusers exhibited less assertiveness. In addition, mild to moderate levels of depression were evident in both female and male substance abusers. Further, results of correlational analyses revealed several significant relationships between measures of social skills and depression. Results are discussed in terms of: (a) the need for finer grained analyses of social functioning in adolescent substance abusers, (b) the potential value of skills intervention for a subgroup of these individuals, and (c) the need for longitudinal data to more clearly explicate patterns and sequencing of social (mal)adjustment, affective disorder, and onset of substance abuse in this population.

This study was supported in part by the Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research (CEDAR) and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (No. DA05605).

Reprint requests should be directed to Vincent B. Van Hasselt, Center for Psychological Studies, Nova University, 3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314.

The authors wish to express their appreciation to Tracey Eck for her technical assistance in preparation of this manuscript.