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Boys A, Marsden J, Griffiths P, Fountain J, Stillwell G, Strang J. 
“Substance use among young people: the relationship between perceived functions and intentions”. 
Addiction. 1999 Jul;94(7):1043-50.
AIMS: To explore the relationship between young people's use of psychoactive substances, perceived functions for using, the experience of negative effects, and the influences of these variables on their intention to use substances again.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey in which respondents were purposively recruited using snowballing techniques.

SETTING: Interviews were conducted in informal community settings.

PARTICIPANTS:One hundred young drug and alcohol users (45 females) aged between 16 and 21 years.

MEASUREMENTS: Life-time prevalence, current frequency and intensity of substance use and intentions to use again were assessed for four target substances (alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy) together with measures of the perceived functions for their use and peer substance involvement.

FINDINGS: The life-time experience of negative effects from using the assessed substances was not found to correlate with current consumption patterns. Statistically significant associations were observed between the reported frequency of taking substances and the perceived social/contextual and/or mood altering functions cited for their consumption. The substance use function measures together with the reported extent of peer use were significant predictors of intentions to use again. CONCLUSIONS: If these findings are confirmed in larger studies, educational and preventative efforts may need to acknowledge the positive personal and social functions which different substances serve for young people. The results also call into question the extent to which the experience of negative effects influences future patterns of use.
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