Young adults, substance use, and Emotional Intelligence?

The use of alcohol and illicit substances among youth, and its contributing factors, ranging from clinical symptoms, socio-economic issues as well as academic and environmental influences, has been studied by many (Diala, Muntaner, & Walrath, 2004; Dube et al. , 2003; Dong, Chapman, Giles, & Anda, 2003; Gordon, Kinlock, & Battjes, 2004; McNeely, & Falci, 2004). Substance use in youth contributes to psychosocial impairment that leads to social consequences and sets the foundation for potential and subsequent drug and alcohol use in adulthood (National Survey on Drug Use and Health [NSDUH], (2006); Trim, Meehan, King, & Chassin, 2007).

The National Adolescent Health Information Center [NAHIC] (2007) reports that the use of substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes triples between adolescence and young adulthood for all racial and ethnic groups. The widespread use of alcohol and tobacco and their abuse among the younger population, (i. e. , adolescents and young adults) continues to increase. The rise in smoking behaviors among the young adult population is of particular interest (Hammond, 2005; Solberg, Asche, Boyle, McCarthy, & Thoele, 2007).

Marijuana is the most frequently abused illicit drug in the United States with staggering figures among users, typically the 12-year-old and older population. Marijuana use accounts for one third of the admitted drug abuse in drug-related emergencies occurring in emergency departments nationwide (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2006). It is widely accepted that the early use of illicit drugs increases risky behaviors that lead to sexually transmitted diseases, infectious diseases, increased crime and violence, and injuries.

These risky behaviors have the potential to lead to chronic substance abuse and dependence as well (Burrow-Sanchez, 2006; Guiao, Blakemore, & Boswell-Wise, 2004; Miller, Naimi, Brewer, & Everett-Jones, 2007; Nanda, & Konnur, 2006). For example, college drinking and binge drinking among 18 to 24 year olds in the United States between 1998 and 2001 on college campuses with drinking problems saw a significant increase in deaths. These deaths were out proportioned to the increase in the same population (Hingson, Heeren, Winter, & Weschler, 2005; Weschler, et al, 2002).

Similarly, the CDC (2005) reports that the leading cause of motor vehicle death among adolescence is associated with alcohol use. The yearly cost of substance abuse is enormous as it often includes multiple treatments through medical and detoxification efforts, criminal prosecution, school dropout and lack of productivity (Adrian, 2001; Compton, & Volkow, 2006). Little is known about the total cost of substance abuse to the health care system, but some studies have estimated it to be in the billions.

In the United States an estimated cost of medical intervention as a result of chronic alcohol abuse taxed the health care system of nearly $150 billion in 1992 (Harwood, Fountain, & Livermore, 1998). Compounding the cost to the health care system as a consequence of alcohol abuse is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), an identifiable potentially preventable teratogenic cause of mental retardation that is associated with significant life-long developmental disabilities. These disabilities were estimated to cost the health care system $1.

4 million per person as early as 1988 (Lupton, Burd, & Harwood, 2004). Cost of inflation and population changes is not factored in, but it is guaranteed to be higher, bringing a concern to the public health radar given that the trends of substance abuse among males and females are similar (NAHIC, 2007). Therefore, in the United States substance abuse is identified as 1 of 10 health leading indicators affecting social health, as outlined in the Healthy People 2010.

Research continues to explore ways in which to understand the underpinnings of substance abuse and other risk behaviors among populations of the young and the old alike by focusing attention to the application of social theories. For example, there is a significant amount of research investigating links between theoretical constructs and human behavior, such as the social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986), self-determination theory, (Deci & Ryan, 1985), the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein, & Ajzen, 1975), and the ecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) combined with risk and resiliency frameworks (Dekovic, 1999; Rutter, 1987).

Yet the theory of emotional intelligence (Bar-On, 2006a; Goleman, 1995; Salovey & Mayer, 1990) remains virtually unexplored as it relates to substance use and other risky behaviors among freshmen college students; thus creating an important gap in knowledge. This study seeks to contribute research towards filling that gap, and towards adding to the body of knowledge in an attempt to improve the understanding of the relationship among social, cognitive and environmental variables that may contribute to substance use among young adults.

The basic idea is that impaired emotional execution precludes individuals from effectively managing negative feelings, leading to inadequacy in dealing with stressful situations. For some of these individuals, substance use is a way out. Emotional intelligence (EI) continues to gain in popularity among researchers of social sciences and has been studied as a predictor of social interactions and competence (Tsujino & Oyama-Higa, 2007; Vorbach, & Foster, 2003), as well as its role in adolescent morbidities of anxiety and depression (Fernandez-Berrocal, Alcaide & Extremera, 2006).

It is also being studies as a predictor in issues pertaining to mental, social and physical health in college students (Extremera & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2006). Emotional intelligence has been theorized in divergent ways, creating confusion; conceptually and measurably (Emmerling & Goleman, 2003). To date, EI has been categorized in two ways: “ability” model and “mix” model; each measured differently.

The ability model (Salovey & Mayer, 1990) emphasizes cognitive processes, while the mix model (Bar-On, 2006a; Goleman, 1995) combines emotional ability, personality, motivation and affective dispositions (Bastian, Burns, & Nettelbeck, 2005), thus necessitating alternative measurement. The tenet of emotional intelligence has been defined as a skill that allows us to recognize and manage our emotions as well as the ability to understand the emotions in others (Mayer & Salovey, 1997).

Emotional intelligence principles such as social competence, self-awareness, impulse control, and empathy have been identified as necessary characteristics of leaders in the work place. These principles are essential to success and may provide a framework, which will safeguard youth against risky behaviors (Bar-On, 2006a; Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Past emotional intelligence studies have done much to contribute to the body of research in other areas including management and leadership.

One recent study sought to assess leadership effectiveness outside of personality traits among high profiled company executives (Cherniss, Extein, Goleman, & Weissberg, 2006). Similarly, others have looked into the role of EI as a predictor of happiness while controlling for personality traits, affirming that individuals with high EI are more likely to withstand and regulate stress (Furnham & Christoforou, 2007). It has been shown to be equally good at predicting social competence and positive coping styles (Mavroveli, Petrides, Rieffe, & Bakker, 2007).

This concurs with a Petrides, Sangareau, Furham, and Frederickson (2006) study of the relationship between EI and student cooperativeness, disruptiveness and aggression in which they found that students with higher trait scores of EI were more likely to display leadership qualities leading to increased cooperation, and less class disruption and aggression (p. 545). Several tools are commercially available to measure emotional intelligence. Ability EI has been analyzed using performance based measures correlated to intelligence constructs, such as IQ.

One such tool is the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) scale developed by Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso (2002) and the Schutte Self Report Inventory (SSRI) developed by Schutte, et al (1998) to map the ability model proposed by Salovey and Mayer (1990). Conversely, the mix model EI, Bar-On model of Emotional-Social-Intelligence (ESI), has been assessed using the Emotional Quotient Inventory (the EQ-i); and the Emotional Competence Inventory [ECI] (Bar-On, 2006a; Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 1999; Mayer & Salovey, 1997).

The validity and reliability of these tools will be described in chapter 2. In this study, emotional intelligence will be assessed using the Schutte Self Report Inventory (SSRI). The use of substances will be assessed using commercially available instruments. Alcohol abuse can be measured with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) (Babor, Higgins-Biddle, Saunders, & Monteiro, 2001).

Cigarette smoking and marijuana use will be assessed using the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) and the Marijuana Screening Inventory (MSI-X) (Alexander, 2003b; Heatherton, Kozlowski, Frecker & Fagerstrom, 1991). These tools are presented in the appendix section of this research study. Problem statement Literature reveals that alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use among youth are risk behaviors that often begin in adolescence (Hallfors et al, 2006) with health, and social consequences, particularly for those who broaden its use beyond experimentation (Burrow-Sanchez, 2006; Hallfors et al.

, 2004). Social, environmental, and mental health factors associated with substance use among adolescents are well documented in literature (Ballon, Courbasson, & Smith, 2001; Dunn, 2005; Harrow et al, 2006; Kelly, Blacksin, & Mason, 2001; Weaver et al, 2001). However, research examining the ability to identify, understand, use, and manage emotions, a construct known as emotional intelligence (Salovey & Mayer, 1990), and its implications for substance abuse among young adults is limited.

These limits prevent current researchers from obtaining an adequate amount of data on which to compare emotional intelligence and substance abuse. This research study aims to provide information about the use of emotional intelligence and its correlation with substance abuse. Thus, as the problems linking substance use among youth require attention, the need to understand the behavior itself warrants continual focus so that issues regarding emotional intelligence and continued drug use can be explored.

Hence this study seeks to bridge our knowledge gap by examining the relationship between emotional intelligence and high risk behaviors associated with alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use and abuse among a college freshmen sample, ages 18-20 years old. To this end, the study will be utilizing a quantitative design approach by employing survey instrumentation for its data collection. Rationale for the study Higher levels of emotional intelligence can prevent substance abuse among young adults.

Young adulthood is an important period in which to examine relations between emotions and substance use for the following reasons: (1) risky behaviors and experimentation that started in adolescence are prevalent at this time; (2) independence from parent control, life stressors such as problems at school, problems with family, and extracurricular activities may generate emotional responses or coping mechanisms that lead to negative resolutions including substance use, violence, and other self-destructive behaviors and; (3) promising findings in the literature indicate that individuals with high emotional intelligence may be able to maintain higher positive mood states, and higher self-esteem because of their emotion regulation abilities that allow them to counter some of the negative situations of their everyday occurrences (Brackett, Mayer, & Warner, 2004; Schutte et al, 2002). These negative situations may include engagement in risky behaviors including substance use among others.

The need to understand whether or not high emotional intelligence serves as a protective mechanism against risky behaviors associated with substance use, a negative correlation must be established. At present, few studies have been done linking emotional intelligence with cigarette smoke and alcohol use (Trinidad & Anderson, 2002; Trinidad et al, 2004; Trinidad, Unger, Chou, & Johnson, 2005). This study seeks to uncover if there is a relationship between emotional intelligence and alcohol, marijuana use or cigarette smoking among young adults in a sophomore college student sample. This study will aid in the understanding of this relationship further to inform clinicians working with late adolescents and young adults in future program development and interventions.

A correlation between emotional intelligence and high-risk behaviors will assist us in improving existing alcohol and tobacco prevention programs, and pioneering drug use, initiation, and prevention intervention strategies aimed at young adults to foster positive mechanisms to promote effective management of emotions. Purpose of the Study Research indicates that individuals with high emotional intelligence are more likely to report among others, greater feelings of well-being (Schutte et al, 2002); exhibit greater performance outcomes (Carmeli & Josman, 2006); higher self-esteem (Fernandez-Berrocal, Alcaide, Extremera, & Pizarro, 2006); and increased resistance to the use of alcohol and tobacco (Trinidad & Anderson, 2002).

Research however acknowledges a need to further study the role of emotional intelligence in these areas and the need to validate its previous findings. This research study will answer this call via an empirical quest for the purpose of examining the relationship between emotional intelligence and substance use behaviors in young adults. More specifically, the purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between emotional intelligence and alcohol, marijuana use and cigarette smoking among young adults in a selected college student sample, ages 18 to 20. Research objectives 1. To determine if there is a relationship between emotional intelligence and high risk behaviors related to alcohol abuse, tobacco use, and marijuana smoking among young adults in a college setting. 2.

To measure the relationship between specific dimensions of emotional intelligence as predictors of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana abuse. 3. To determine if the findings from this study may be used to inform future interventions. Research questions 1. This study seeks to uncover the following question: Is there a relationship between emotional intelligence and high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana use, and cigarette smoking among young adults ages 18-20? 2. Which emotional intelligence constructs are most influential in predicting high risk behaviors of substance abuse, alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette smoking among young adults? Hypothesis Emotional intelligence scores are shown in the following research testable: H01.

There is no difference among subscales of emotional intelligence scores in terms of prediction on the SSRI and scores on the AUDIT alcohol use scale. H11. There is no evidence of a positive relationship between emotional intelligence scores on the SSRI and scores on the AUDIT, alcohol use scale. H02. There is no difference among subscales of emotional intelligence scores in terms of prediction on the SSRI and scores on the MSI-X, marijuana screening inventory. H12. There is no evidence of a positive relationship between emotional intelligence scores on the SSRI and scores on the MSI-X, marijuana screening inventory. H03. There is no difference among subscales of emotional intelligence scores in terms of prediction on the SSRI and scores on the FTND, nicotine dependence scale. H13.

There is no evidence of a positive relationship between emotional intelligence scores on the SSRI and scores on the FTND, nicotine dependence scale. H04. Low scores on the SSRI ability to perceive emotions do not have an influence on predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. H14. Low scores on the SSRI ability to perceive emotions have an influence in predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. H05. Low scores on the SSRI ability to manage own emotions do not have an influence predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. H15.

Low scores on the SSRI ability to manage own emotions are influential in predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. H06. Low scores on the SSRI ability to manage others’ emotions do not have an influence in predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. H16. Low scores on the SSRI ability to manage others’ emotions are influential in predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. H07. Low scores on the SSRI ability to utilize emotions do not have an influence in predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. H17.

Low scores on the SSRI ability to utilize emotions are influential in predicting high risk behaviors of alcohol abuse, marijuana, and cigarette smoke among young adults. Theoretical Basis The concept of emotional intelligence has gained significant empirical attention over the last decade, since its inception as an Ability Model by Salovey and Caruso (1990) and later revitalization, as a Mixed Model, by Goleman (1995). The quintessence of EI posits two elements: intelligence and emotion; basically dealing with the “ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions, so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth” (Mayer & Salovey, 1997 p. 5).

Within Mayer and Salovey’s Ability model, EI is described, measured, and tested as a set of abilities, which impact an individual’s behavior independent of personality traits. Figure 1-1 shows this construct. Goleman (1995) advanced the theory by further dividing these set of abilities into competencies: social and personal, positing that self-awareness, and self-management funnels the individuals’ ability to understand and manage their own emotions, which serves as the catalyst that influences positive outcomes that are linked to an increase in an individual’s effectiveness and successes in life. With the boom of empirical research using emotional intelligence, EI has received opposing views pertaining to its measurement methods, practices, and applications (Roberts, Schulze, Zeidner, & Mathews, 2005).

The authors have emphasized the need to further standardize the definition and measurement of emotional intelligence in order to understand its connections to a vast knowledge base regarding emotions, personality, cognition and intelligence, thereby reducing the perceived overlap between these constructs. Mayer, Salovey and Caruso (2004) have responded with a list of observations regarding the Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), a tool they developed to test the constructs of EI. Although they assert to the legitimacy of some of the claims in the criticism, they refer particularly to the exhaustive list of ideal, yet nearly-impossible-criteria to be measured utilizing “just about any measurement procedure” (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2004, p. 211). They further explain the operationalization of EI and the validity and reliability of the MSCEIT.

Likewise, others confirm the appropriateness of the test to assess the wide-ranging appraisal of emotions-related competences to date (Wilhelm, 2005). Additionally, Mayer, Salovey and Caruso formally alienated their views from Goleman’s argument that EI can be held as a “predictor of success in life” (Goleman, 1995, p. 34), a frequently disputed point by the theory critics. An in-depth examination of EI will be reviewed in chapter 2. Despite this censorship, EI continues to signify relevance to issues of everyday life, and can provide important information from a poignant point of view on how individuals can respond in emotionally positive ways to significant stressors, such as substance use.

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