Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details

Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

The Journal of Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues

6 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR increased in 2015: 0.768

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.321
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.485
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2015: 0.618

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
Volume 31, Issue 4 (Oct 2014)


Social Skills and Their Relationship to Drug Use Among 15-16-Year-Old Students in Estonia: An Analysis Based on the ESPAD Data

Sigrid Vorobjov
  • Infectious Diseases and Drug Monitoring, Department National Institute for Health Development
  • Email:
/ Helve Saat
  • Institute of Psychology, Tallinn University
  • Email:
/ Merike Kull
  • Institute of Sport Pedagogy, Faculty of Exercise and Sport Sciences University of Tartu
  • Email:
Published Online: 2014-10-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/nsad-2014-0031


AIM – to investigate the relationship between levels of social skills and drug use among 15–16-year-old students in Estonia. METHODS – A total of 2,460 Estonian schoolchildren, born in 1995, participated in the ESPAD study in 2011. Individual social skills levels were measured with questions on prosocial and antisocial behaviours assessing how children perform within their social milieu. The relationship between social skills levels and drug use was estimated using chi-squared tests and logistic regression analysis. Odds ratios (OR) were adjusted for gender, parents’ education and financial well-being, and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to estimate risks of drug use by social skills level. RESULTS – Students with lower social skills were at greater risk of starting smoking and smoking daily (50% risk increase). Students with low social skills had a higher risk of lifetime use of cannabis (OR=1.4; 95%CI 1.1–1.9), sedatives/tranquillisers without a prescription (OR=2.3; 1.4–3.9), and inhalants (OR=1.9; 1.2–3.0). The number of students with lower social skills was significantly higher among boys than girls: 35% vs 19%. CONCLUSIONS – Students’ social skill levels were related to their licit and illicit drug use. A low level of social skills can increase adolescents’ vulnerability to drug use. As boys’ social skills levels appeared much lower and their drug use higher than that of girls, we suggest that gender-related risk prevention programmes of social skills training could be beneficial in preventing drug use.

Keywords: social skills; prevention; ESPAD; Estonia


  • Botvin, G. J. (1999). Adolescent drug abuse prevention: Current fndings and future directions. In M. D. Glantz & C. R. Hartel (Eds.), Drug Abuse (pp. 285–308). Washington: APA.

  • Botvin, G. J. (2000). Preventing drug abuse in schools: Social and competence enhancement approaches targeting individual-level etiological factors. Addictive Behaviors, 25(6): 887–897. [Crossref]

  • Botvin, G. J., & Kantor, L. W. (2000). Preventing alcohol and tobacco use through life skills training. Alcohol Research & Health, 24(4): 250–257.

  • Botvin, G. J. (2012). Life skills training: Level three, grades 5/6. Student Guide. Princeton Health Press.

  • Brechwald, W. A. & Prinstein, M. J. (2011). Beyond homophily: A decade of advances in understanding peer infuence processes. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1): 166-179. [Crossref] [Web of Science]

  • Caldarella, P., & Merrell, K. W. (1997). Common dimensions of social skills of children and adolescents: A taxonomy of positive behaviors. School Psychology Review, 26(2): 264–279.

  • Danielson, C., & Phelps, C. (2003). The assessment of children’s social skills through self-report: A potential screening instrument for classroom use. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 35: 218–229.

  • EMCDDA (2011). European drug prevention quality standards: A manual for prevention professionals. Luxembourg: Publications Offce of the European Union.

  • EMCDDA (2013). Best practice portal: Prevention interventions for school students. http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/ best-practice/prevention/school-children

  • ESPAD (2011). ESPAD questionnaire 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.espad. org/Uploads/Documents/ESPAD_ Questionnaire_2011.pdf

  • Faggiano, F., Vigna-Taglianti, F. D., Versino, E., Zambon, A., Borraccino, A., & Lemma, P. (2005). School-based prevention for illicit drugs’ use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2): CD003020.

  • Faggiano, F., Vigna-Taglianti, F., Burkhart, G. et al. (2010). The effectiveness of a school-based substance abuse prevention program: 18-month follow-up of the EU-Dap cluster randomized controlled trial. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 108(1–2): 56–64.

  • Foxcroft, D. R., & Tsertsvadze, A. (2011a). Universal family-based prevention programs for alcohol misuse in young people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (9): CD009308. [Web of Science]

  • Foxcroft, D. R., & Tsertsvadze, A. (2011b). Universal school-based prevention programs for alcohol misuse in young people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (5): CD009113. [Web of Science]

  • Gorman, D. M. (2005). Does measurement dependence explain the effects of the Life Skills Training program on smoking outcomes? Preventive Medicine, 40(4): 479–87. [PubMed] [Crossref]

  • Green, H. D. Jr., Horta, M., de la Haye, K., Tucker, J. S., Kennedy, D. R., & Pollard, M. (2013). Peer infuence and selection processes in adolescent smoking behavior: A comparative study. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 15(2): 534–541. [Crossref] [Web of Science]

  • Gresham, F. M. (2010). Base rates of social skills defcits, strengths, and problem behaviors: An analysis based on the Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales. ISPA, 32nd Annual Conference, July 20–24, Dublin. [Web of Science]

  • Hibell, B., Guttormsson, U., Ahlström, S., Balakireva, O., Bjarnason, T., Kokkevi, A., & Kraus, L. (2012). The 2011 ESPAD report: Substance use among students in 36 European countries. The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and other Drugs. Retrieved from: http:// www.espad.org/Uploads/ESPAD_ reports/2011/The_2011_ESPAD_Report_ FULL_2012_10_29.pdf

  • Kobin, M., Vorobjov, S., Abel-Ollo, K., & Vals, K. (Eds.) (2012). Uimastite tarvitamine koolinoorte seas: 15-16-aastaste õpilaste legaalsete ja illegaalsete narkootikumide kasutamine Eestis (Drug use among schoolchildren: 15–16-year-old students’ licit and illicit drug use in Estonia). TLÜ Rahvusvaheliste ja Sotsiaaluuringute Instituut, Tervise Arengu Instituut.

  • Kuntsche, E., Knibbe, R., Gmel, G., & Engels, R. (2006). Who drinks and why? A review of socio-demographic, personality, and contextual issues behind the drinking motives in young people. Addictive Behaviors, 31(10): 1844–1857. [PubMed] [Crossref]

  • Mercken, L., Steglich, C., Knibbe, R., & Vries, Hd. (2012). Dynamics of friendship networks and alcohol use in early and mid-adolescence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 73(1): 99–110.

  • Merrell, K. (2002). School social behavior scales: user’s guide. Second edition. Eugene, USA: Assessment-Intervention Resources.

  • Monk, D., & Ricciardelli, L. (2003). Three dimensions of the male gender role as correlates of alcohol and cannabis involvement in young Australian men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 4(1): 57–69.

  • Pape, H. (2009). School-based programmes that seem to work: Useful research on substance use prevention or suspicious stories of success? Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 26(6): 521–535.

  • Saat, H., & Vorobjov, S. (2012). Sotsiaalsed oskused ja nende seosed uimastite tarvitamisega. (Social skills and their relationships with drug use). In M. Kobin, S. Vorobjov, K. Abel-Ollo, & K. Vals (Eds.), Uimastite tarvitamine koolinoorte seas:15-16-aastaste õpilaste legaalsete ja illegaalsete narkootikumide kasutamine Eestis (pp 39–45) (Drug use among schoolchildren: 15–16-year-old students’ licit and illicit drug use in Estonia). TLÜ Rahvusvaheliste ja Sotsiaaluuringute Instituut, Tervise Arengu Instituut.

  • Scheier, L. M., Botvin, G. J., Diaz, T., & Griffn, K. W. (1999). Social skills, competence, and drug refusal effcacy as predictors of adolescent alcohol use. Journal of Drug Education, 29(3): 251–278.

  • Scull, T. M., Kupersmidt, J. B., & Erausquin, J. T. (2014). The impact of media-related cognitions on children’s substance use outcomes in the context of parental and peer substance use. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(5): 717–728. [Web of Science]

  • Soole, D. W., Mazerolle, L., & Rombouts, S. (2008). School-based drug prevention programs: A review of what works. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 259(41): 259–286. [Web of Science] [Crossref]

  • StataCorp (2009). Stata Statistical Software: Release 11. College Station, TX: Stata Corp L P.

  • Ter Bogt, T. F., de Looze, M., Molcho, M., Godeau, E., Hublet, A., Kokkevi, A., Kuntsche, E. et al. (2014). Do societal wealth, family affuence and gender account for trends in adolescent cannabis use? A 30 country cross-national study. Addiction, 109(2): 273–283. [Web of Science] [PubMed]

  • Tobler, N., Roona, M., Ochshorn, P., Marshall, D. G., Streke, A. V., & Stackpole, K. M. (2000). School-based adolescent drug prevention programs: 1998 meta-analysis. Journal of Primary Prevention, 20(4): 275–336.

  • Tucker, J. S., de la Haye, K., Kennedy, D. P., Green, H. D. Jr., & Pollard, M. S. (2014). Peer infuence on marijuana use in different types of friendships. Journal of Adolescent Health, 54(1): 67–73. [Crossref] [Web of Science]

  • Visser, R., & Smith, J. A. (2007). Alcohol consumption and masculine identity among young men. Psychology and Health, 22(5): 595–614. [Crossref]

  • World Health Organization (2003). Skills for health. Information Series on School Health, 9.

About the article

Received: 2014-03-03

Received: 2014-06-16

Published Online: 2014-10-02

Citation Information: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, ISSN (Online) 1458-6126, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/nsad-2014-0031. Export Citation

© 2014 Sigrid Vorobjov et. al.. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in