Personas in drug use - Understanding substance-use motives in young adults

Friday, 25 November, 2022 - 10:50 to 12:20


Background Understanding motives and expectancies underlying drug use is assumed to be an essential component in the development of effective drug use prevention. A better understanding of motives and expectancies can inform prevention efforts by providing insights into how and why the drug is used and in what social contexts. Prevention interventions should be tailored to the specific processes that underlie use for different users, resulting in more effective prevention.

While alcohol-use motives have been widely researched, little to no research has been conducted into drug use motives and expectancies in young adults (18-25yrs). In this study, we examined the expectancies young adults have from the use of both alcohol and drugs. The purpose of this project was to develop evidence-based personas of young adults, based on substance-use expectancies.

Methods Data were collected among Dutch young adults (18–25 yrs) through in-depth interviews (N=43) and an online questionnaire (N=4182). Participants were recruited via social media. They answered questions about their experiences and intentions with alcohol and drug use, expectations, social norms and intention to quit. For developing personas from the quantitative and qualitative dataset, we combined Goodwin’s methods for persona development with latent class analyses (LCA) using positive and negative expectancies as indicator variable.

Results: Nine personas were found: A non-user, controlled user of alcohol, social user of alcohol, social user of alcohol and drugs, drug-starter, quitter, stimulant-user, hallucinogens-user, coping-driven user. For each persona a detailed profile was set up, describing their expectations and pattern of substance use, social norms and intention to quit or reduce their use.

Conclusion: This is the first study investigating substance-use related personas. These personas offer new insights by looking at the use of substances from the perspective of young adults. These insights can be used to improve prevention efforts and communications with young adults about substance use.


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25 5A 1050 Martha C de Jonge_v1.0.pdf2.92 MBDownload



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