Background: Individual experience with substance use is considered as one of the principal factors influencing risk perception and attitudes of young people towards substance use. The aim of this article is to show the relationship between self-reported prevalence and the subjectively perceived risks of substance use, both for individuals and at the country level. Methodology: The relationships were analysed on a sample of students participating in the ESPAD survey in eight European countries. The sample of 22,899 students was divided into five groups: abstainers (9.3%), experimental alcohol consumers (52.0%), regular alcohol consumers (14.2%), experimental drug users (12.3%), and regular drug users (12.2%). Findings: Significant differences were observed in the risk perception of use of selected substances among five types of users. The percentage of students perceiving moderate or great risks of substance use tends to fall across the groups with increasing prevalence of more risky patterns of substance use. Highest perceived risks of alcohol and illicit drugs use were found among abstainers and experimental alcohol consumers, while both experimental and regular drug users tend to perceive lower risks. Regular alcohol consumers perceive relatively high risks of illicit drug use, but they under-estimate the risks of alcohol consumption. Country differences were observed in the level of perceived risks. These differences correspond to a different distribution of types of users and to the overall prevalence of substance use in individual countries.[résumé auteur]
Auteur : Chomynova P., Miller P., BECK F.
Journal of Substance Use, 2009, vol. 14, n°. 3-4, p. 250-264