The effect of teenage income and unstructured time on alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use
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The present research aimed to examine how income and time spent in structured and unstructured activities are associated with alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use among high school seniors. The research used data from the 2018 Monitoring the Future study, and three ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models, one for each of the outcome variables. In line with expectations derived from the routine activity perspective, time spent on all three unstructured activities considered (i.e., evenings out for fun, driving around for fun, and going to parties) were positively and significantly associated with alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use. For the structured activity of sports, both tobacco and marijuana use were negatively and significantly associated with the activity, but no significant impact on alcohol use was detected. Hours worked (the other structured activity considered) was found to be significantly and positively associated with tobacco use, against expectations. This may be explained by work income having a detrimental impact on substance use, as it would provide adolescents with the purchasing power (and thus the opportunity) required. Both alcohol and marijuana use were significantly and positively associated with this variable. Income from an allowance was significantly and positively associated with tobacco use only. This research provided a further test of the routine activity perspective and based on the findings, suggested potential measures that may reduce opportunities for substance use among adolescents.