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Rev Psiquiatr Salud Ment. 2014 Jan-Mar;7(1):5-12. doi: 10.1016/j.rpsm.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

Is a gender differential intervention necessary in the prevention of adolescent drug use?

[Article in English, Spanish]

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  • 1Departamento de Sociología y Trabajo Social, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, España. Electronic address:
  • 2Departamento de Psicología, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, España.



To examine the significant differences in smoking, drug and alcohol use between adolescent boys and girls, and to raise the possible need to design and implement prevention programs from a gender perspective.


A qualitative study using eight discussion groups of adolescents aged 14-18 years (n=56) and 6 semi-structured interviews with experts and professionals in drug prevention in the Community of Madrid. Categorical interpretive analysis was performed.


The adolescents and prevention professional indicated differences between boys and girls in drug and alcohol use. The significances, reasons associated with the consumption and the patterns of consumption were perceived differently by each sex. To lose weight, calm down or an image of rebelliousness was related to girls who smoked, while boys smoked less because they did more sports. The perception of certain precocity of drug consumption was associated with the step from school to Higher Education Institutions. They found smoking associated with a good social image among their groups. Adolescents showed the ineffectiveness of the campaigns and prevention messages they received, incoherence of adults between messages and actions, and the attraction of all behaviours that are banned. Professionals observed the need to include a gender perspective in prevention programs, but did not know how to achieve it, mainly because it has been translated into different activities for each sex until now.


The significant differences associated with smoking, drug and alcohol use observed in the adolescents should lead us to design and implement prevention programs that incorporate a gender perspective. It is perhaps from this strategy where drug and alcohol use among girls can be reduced.

Copyright © 2012 SEP y SEPB. Published by Elsevier España. All rights reserved.


Adolescentes; Adolescents; Alcohol; Gender; Género; Prevención; Prevention; Tabaco; Tobacco

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