Drug abuse among Israeli youth: Epidemiological pilot study


A. The statement of the problem
B. Aims and purposes of the present study
C. Methodological problems
D. Procedures
E. The research population
F. Findings
Factor 1 - Value Judgment
Factor 2 - Attitudes towards experimentation with drugs
Factor 3 - Legalization of drug use
Factor 4 - Attitudes of relevant others toward drug use
TABLE 7 Intercorrelation between the attitudinal factors and knowledge about drugs


Author: S. Giora SHOHAM, Dina KLIGER, Tamar CHAI
Pages: 9 to 28
Creation Date: 1974/01/01

Drug abuse among Israeli youth: Epidemiological pilot study *

Professor, Faculty of Law, Nehemia GEVA Dina KLIGER
Tamar CHAI
Tel Aviv University

A. The statement of the problem

Drug use in Israel is not a new phenomenon. However, there has been a change in the pattern of use both in the distribution and demographic composition of the users. Whereas before the war of 1967, most drug abuse, both of cannabis and the opiates, was largely confined to marginal deviant and criminal groups, after the war of 1967, drug abuse, especially that of cannabis, has become more prevalent especially among show-business people, bohemians, pseudo-bohemians and their camp followers, considerable segments of high school and university students.

This considerable change in the pattern of drug abuse in Israel could be attributed, inter alia, to the following reasons:

  1. The greater availability of cannabis after East Jerusalem and the West Bank became accessible to Israelis. Movement between these regions and the extensive cannabis plantations of the Lebanon and Syria are frequent and uninterrupted despite the formal lack of communications with these countries (Berman, 1969; Miller, 1970).

  2. The exposure to drug use patterns seen in volunteers, tourists and visiting students from occidental countries, especially from the United States, and the influence of the patterns of culture which are related to drug use in these countries. This exposure involved, of course, interaction and learning of drug use. It should he stressed that volunteers and students from western countries have visited Israel before; however, some patterns of social change in these countries have introduced a wide-spread use of drugs.

Many theories have been put forward as to the origin of these changes. However, we shall concentrate in this study on one cultural theory which it is maintained would be more appropriate to the Israeli context than others. This theory will not be tested in this pilot study but will, it is hoped be examined in a future comprehensive study.

Culture is taxonomized by some anthropologists (L. Levy-Bruhl, 1922) as moving along a continuum from "tool orientation" to "symbol orientation." Tool orientation cultures are societies of doers, builders and entrepreneurs. They are motivated by the Protestant ethic of achievement or the salvation through action postulated by Hegel and Marx. On the other hand, some Eastern societies in the Levant and the Far East are dominated by mysticism, fatalism, negation of temporal existence and the exaltation of eschathology, re-incarnation and the "ever-after." Among these extremes of the continuum all human societies may be placed, or classified, on different planes within a space.

Drug use has been a staple of symbol-oriented societies, but in an institutionalized manner: the daily opium pipes of the Chinese peasants were usually smoked at certain times of the day, not unlike the martinis of the American executive. In like manner, the hashish water-pipe smoked before the siesta by the East Jerusalem patriarch is controlled drug intake, not unlike the "Cafe Royal" of the south of France bourgeoisie.

* This research has been carried out under the auspices of the Israel National Council for Research and Development, Grant No. 8599000.

However, when a tool oriented culture undergoes considerable value or normative changes, or, for some reasons which are outside the scope of the present study, youth or some segments of the tool oriented society seek to absorb some patterns of behaviour of the symbol oriented cultures, drug use becomes a major vehicle towards this goal.

The implications here are that the pop music and art with a marked connotation of mystical longing in it, which flourished and still flourishes in the United States and in Europe, are also strongly related to drug use. Moreover, drugs in a tool oriented society, undergoing the social changes described above, would become a symbol of rebellion, protest and unrest.

Consequently, these changes which have taken place in the United States and Europe are now being introduced into Israel. This country has been reared by tool and action orientation since the dawn of Zionism. Yet, the contact with the symbol oriented culture around it, the exposure to symbol oriented behaviour of youth coming from tool oriented countries, and some insipient rebelliousness of some of the youth in this country, might all be related to this change.

It should be stressed, however, that when drugs are used as a symbol oriented pattern of behaviour by an individual coming from a tool oriented society, the structural controls are not operating any more and the excess of drug intake, i.e., drug abuse, might become a personal and social problem.

This is like the sad and partly true observation that a large number of the "flower people" have turned into "junkies" or that the alcoholism among the Mormons is partly due to a reaction-formation against total abstinence once the normative barriers against alcohol intake of an individual Mormon have been eroded. When the normative boundaries inherent in the tool oriented culture do not operate and the traditional regulations of drug use by the symbol oriented cultures are not present, drug use becomes drug abuse. At this stage, this theory has not been tested, but it would help explain some aspects of the drug problem in Israel.

Although these cultural changes and the pattern of drug use have aroused considerable public concern there is no reasonably safe estimate of the extent of drug use and the attitudes towards drug use in Israel. The discrepancy between these estimates has been widely noted (Shoham, 1970). This is why a reliable and valid epidemiological study was deemed necessary as well as the construction of methodological tools to be employed in the study.

B. Aims and purposes of the present study

The introduction sets out a general theoretical frame of reference but the aims of the present study are naturally rather modest; being a pilot study it is first of all concerned with methodological problems and research tools. The difficulties and problems incidental to the construction of research instruments in the field of drug research are well known. However, the special demographic composition of Israel, with its vast diversity of cultural groups, compounds the difficulties of drug research in this country. Consequently the primary aim of the present study is to construct the research tools necessary for a wide scale epidemiological study and test the validity and reliability of these tools. Yet the sample was quite large n = 416. Therefore some material conclusions could be drawn which relate to the many and diverse links between experimentation with drugs, perception of the drug experience, information about the various drugs and techniques of their use. These interrelationships are studied in this research project independently of the validation of the research instruments. The marginal analysis of the population may also provide valuable, though rather limited information, on the link between attitudes towards drug use and actual experience with drugs. The two main aims of the study therefore were to see how propaganda against drug use may be linked with demographic and attitudinal variables and how law enforcement and control on drugs would be linked to the attitudes of the research population.

This means that the present study, as far as attitude and control is concerned, is more than a pilot study and its results transcend mere methodological concerns.

C. Methodological problems

The difficulties confronted by any epidemiological study are many, but the epidemiological problem of drug intake is coupled with the self-incrimination problem of self-reporting on drug use. This problem is well-known in criminology. However, self-reporting in this case seems to be more appropriate than other methods because:

  1. The information about drug use in the police files refers only to offenders who had been apprehended and brought to trial. Moreover, the drug offences reported by the police tend to be biased because police are more stringent towards drug peddlars than drug users. Consequently, drug peddlars are over represented in the population of drug offenders known to the police. Other professional or semi-professional estimates are unreliable. One self-styled expert announced some time ago that there are from 20,000 to 120,000 drug users in Israel. This is completely unfounded by any factual count. In 1969, for instance, a researcher from the Israeli Ministry of Welfare claimed that there are 10,000 drug users as compared to 1,053 drug offenders listed in the annual report of the police for that year.

  2. Berg (1970), who surveyed studies on the incidence of drug use carried out in the United States based on self-reporting, indicates that the rate of self-reporting is rather high. It is, however, quite possible that the higher rate of self-reporting in the United States might be due to a more permissive attitude in the United States towards drug use as compared with Israel. Hence, methodologists advise to use more than one single index when trying to measure non-normative behaviour (Oppenheim, 1966).

Consequently, to the self-reporting by each student were added his estimate of the number of co-students in his class who, according to his knowledge or belief, used drugs at the time of the inquiry, or had been using them in the past. The reporting was not of identifiable students but only an estimate of the number of persons involved. It was hoped that this, along with the emphasis on anonymity, prevented the possible biasing effects of "telling on" classmates. As the class did not contain too many pupils (40) and was presumably well-known to the interviewee, it is presumed that the estimate was realistic.

The procedure was to investigate data relating to the knowledge of the research population about drugs, both practical (prices, how to get drugs, etc.) and general knowledge (the various drugs, their effects, etc.). Another relevant aspect of this phenomenon is the attitude of the research population towards drug use. Knowledge, experience and attitude should be correlated with some demographical variables.

The first aim, however, was to validate and test the reliability of the research instrument. Thereafter some material findings were sought which sought could serve as a point of departure for the full-fledged research.

D. Procedures

In order to construct the questionnaire three pre-tests were carried out, each with a different aim. The first two were meant to weed out irrelevant, non-significant questions by means of item analysis. The third pre-test was intended to validate the various parts of the questionnaire and to determine the reliability of each part as related to the other.

For the first pre-test a questionnaire was worked out relating to the following areas:

  1. The frequency of drug use including all items of self-reporting on use, as well as symptoms of dependency and related phenomena.

  2. The knowledge of, and information about, drugs and their usage.

  3. Attitudes towards drug use.

  4. Demographic variables.

The selection of questions for the questionnaire had been facilitated by the experience gained from similar questionnaires used in the United States. (Rossi, P.H. and Groves, W.E., 1971; Zanes, A., 1970) and also by the face validity of other items related to the various areas of research.

The first pre-test was administered in three high schools in the Tel Aviv area: (1) an academic high school in a middle and upper class residential area; (2) a vocational training high school, the students of which came mostly from lower-middle classes; and (3) an evening high school, whose students are working class youth. This means that a decreasing ranking had been obtained from high to low socio-economic status. For the pre-test itself students were selected at random from six classes (n = 134).

Because the questionnaire had to be anonymous, a special technique was developed by which each interviewee computed a code number for himself without having to remember it.

After these two pre-tests, an item analysis was carried out and the interim results were as follows:

Some demographic questions in which the frequency distribution was low or non-existent and their retest reliability poor, were deleted. Also the ranking of the socio-economic position of the schools was validated. (The index of the socio-economic position of the students was: a weighted mean of father's occupation, education and the number of persons per room at home.)

As for the knowledge and information about drug use, it appeared that the knowledge was rather limited in high school students. If was found that the mean score of the students (a weighted score on a 100 per cent scale) was 30.6%. It was therefore concluded that the range of the optimal level of the items in the questionnaire was between 20%-40%. The items outside this range have been eliminated.

Items that had a very low correlation with the total score as well as items which had retest reliability lower than .35 were also deleted.

As for the actual drug use, the items described by the interviewees as non-realistic or irritating or items that were repetitive were deleted. However, because of the low percentage of self-reporting no statistical analysis was possible. The items that had been weeded out from the attitude questionnaire were those where the retest reliability was less than .30 and the correlation between the items and the factor to which they belonged less than .30.

Another finding which was relevant for further conduct of the study related to the research population's belief that the anonymity was maintained. 86% of the students in the two pre-tests felt free to answer all items and in the interviews after distribution of the questionnaire the students said they believed that the anonymity had been maintained. About 6% of the subjects in all three pre-tests who did not feel free to answer most of the questions and those who avoided answering more than 10 items were left out.

The third pre-test was administered to four academic high schools. These high schools were selected according to the following criteria:

  1. Size of settlement.

  2. Geographical location.

Hence, four schools were chosen at random:

  1. A school from an immigrant development town in the north of Israel.

  2. A school from a highly urbanized centre in the middle of the country.

  3. A school in a town of lower urbanization in the central region of the country.

  4. A school from an urban centre in the south of Israel.

E. The research population

The research population relates to the third and final pre-test which included 16 classes (416 students). [ 1] Their age ranged from 14-19 years with a mean age of 16.04. The sex distribution was as follows: male -43.5% (170); female - 56.5% (221). Most of the research population (84%) were born in Israel, but their ethnic origin, by the father's country of birth, is distributed as follows:



Eastern Europe
Islamic countries
17.6 (n = 391)
Western Europe and USA

However, most of the students born locally are first generation Israelis with parents born in foreign countries. The socio-economic position of the research population was relatively high, as is apparent from the following distribution : [ 2]



Low position
Middle position
Middle high position
35.8 (n = 391)
High position

The socio-economic position of the schools and classes were found to be quite similar, thus indicating the degree of homogeneity in the research population.

It is of interest to note that most of the students regard their relationships with their parents as satisfactory.



Very good relationship with Parents
35.0 (n = 391)
Less than satisfactory

Two-thirds of them express satisfaction with their studies and two-thirds have also been at one time or another members of youth movements.

As for cigarette smoking the distribution is as follows:



16.5 (n = 391)
3-5 cigarettes per day
6+ cigarettes per day

These initial demographic variables present a research population of middle-upper-class, most of them Israeli born, who have satisfactory relationships with their parents, who are happy in their studies, have been members in youth movements and are non-smokers. The material findings from this study would, indeed, apply to the middle-upper class of Israel and not to the other segments of the population. However, the main purpose of this pilot study was to validate and test the reliability of the research instrument. This aim has been achieved although the material findings relate to a limited segment only of Israeli society.

F. Findings

The order of presentation of the findings starts with an analysis of attitudes towards drug use, leading over knowledge and information about drug use to actual use. This seems a logical order of presentation, as it is assumed that actual use would be related to previous knowledge and attitudes.


Twenty-eight attitude items which were chosen after the first two pre-tests had been factor-analysed. From the factor analysis itself [ 3] four factors came out:

Factor 1 - Value Judgment

This factor contains the following items : [ 4]

Item 10 - drug use leads to delinquency (2.29) [ 5]

Item 11 - there should be a severe reaction towards people using hashish (2.53)

Item 12 - drugs lead to moral deterioration (2.02)

Item 13 - drug use expresses irresponsibility (2.84)

Item 18 - drug users should not be trusted (3.11)

Item 19 - the majority of drug users are criminals (3.92)

Item 22 - drugs are detrimental to proper interpersonal relationships (2.33)

Item 23 [ 6] - hashish use by students will interfere with their studies (1.20)

Item 25 - a person using drugs is immoral (4.45)

The relevance of this factor is primarily in the manifestations of a moral judgment by the student of a drug user. The identification of drug use with formal delinquency and crime relates to the traditional pre-Six Day war image of the user as belonging to the marginal groups of criminals and deviants. The adherents to the attitudes expressed by the items in this factor would presumably see themselves on the other side of the normative and legal barricade of the users, i.e., criminals and deviants. Indeed, there is a highly signifiant correlation (r = .348, p < .001, n = 391) between this value judgment factor and the third factor, which is change of drug laws. Those who were low on this factor were definitely against legalization or easing of punishment towards drug users.

A strong value insulation from drugs and drug users may therefore be expected and consequently a patent normative barrier against use by students who would be high on this factor.

The findings uphold our present premise that, of the 58 students who have been offered cannabis, the 10 who accepted the offer and actually smoked hashish were high on this attitudinal factor.


Attitudes of students who have been offered hashish as related to their actual experimentation with the drug


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


Did not try
16 32 48
16 42 58

X 2 = 5.49, p< .02, df = 1.

This factor also coincides with the middle-class view of drug users in most societies. It seems to hold true for Israel also as the research population comes mostly from the middle segment of Israeli society. The notion about similarity of values between high school students and their parents is supported by a finding of Kreitler and Kreitler (1971). It should be pointed out that this factor has come out strongly, as its split half reliability test is considerably high (r = .724, p < .001, n = 391). [ 8]

Factor 2 - Attitudes towards experimentation with drugs

This factor includes the following items : [ 9]

Item 1 - those who don't use drugs miss something in life (1.94) [ 10]

Item 2 - there is no harm if one takes hashish occasionally (2.20)

Item 7 - there is no harm if one takes L.S.D. occasionally (1.56)

Item 14 - there is no harm if one takes heroin or opium occasionally (1.62)

Item 15 - it is the right of each individual person with personal problems to use drugs in order to make things easier for himself (2.26).

Item 17 - there is no harm in taking amphetamines occasionally (3.74)

Item 20 - will you be ready to try hashish within a framework of a controlled experiment, with medical and psychological supervision? (3.78)

Item 21 - there is no harm in taking tranquillizers and sleeping pills occasionally (5.02)

Item 24 - one should use drugs, at least once, in order to know something about them (2.48)

It is important to note that those who believe that drug use is related to deviance and criminal behaviour (i.e., those who are low on Factor 1) have a negative attitude towards experimentation with drugs of any sort (i.e., low on Factor 2). This is manifested by a correlation of r = .396 [ 11] between these two factors. Those per contra, who have a positive attitude towards these factors (i.e., a positive value judgment towards drugs and positive attitudes towards experimentation with drugs) proved to have knowledge of drugs and their techniques of use.

The correlation between practical knowledge and the first attitudinal factor is r = .211 [ 12] and with the second attitudinal factor, r = .215. [ 12]

This finding might lead to a general hypothesis that a strong normative barrier against drug use is the crucial factor in the use or non-use of drugs. If this barrier has been eroded or is non-existent and the youth is normatively open to experimentation with drugs, then steps towards learning the use of drugs would be taken if the opportunity should arise. Moreover, those who are open to experimentation with drugs might seek the experience in order to satisfy their curiosity. Indeed, "curiosity" has been selected by the subjects as one of the main reasons for actual use of the drugs (see table 6).

A partial confirmation of this hypothesis is the fact that Factor I was found to be the main contributor to the variance of actual experimentation with hashish in a Multiple Regression Analysis (see table 15). Yet, due to the small number of subjects and their homogeneity, this hypothesis should be tested in the full scale research.

However, this hypothesis is quite similar to Daniel Glaser's (1961) theory of "differential identification" in criminology. Only when a person is open to identifying himself with criminal roles and criminal patterns of behaviour is he ready for subsequent association with these patterns of behaviour. This is further supported in the present research by the fact that those who were in favour of drug experimentation were indeed those more likely to be approached by a pusher or be offered drugs by a friend (see table 2). Also, they would be more likely to be in the company of users (see table 3).


The relation between attitudinal factor 2 and being offered drugs


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


Have not been offered
177 150 327
Have been offered
15 43 58
192 193 385

X 2 = 15.87, p< .001, df = 1.

11. p<.001, n=391.

12. p<.01, n=391.


The relation between attitudinal factor 2 and being associated with drug users


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


Have not been offered
158 129 287
Have been associated
35 64 99
193 193 386

X [ 2] = 11.42 p< .001, df = 1.

This shows that those who are permissive towards experimentation with drugs express, in fact, their own desires and readiness to use drugs. They would actually be active in exposing themselves to the sources of drugs and try to learn by association the technique of use. On the other hand, association with drug users might make one more ready to experiment with drugs and be more permissive towards this experimentation. This hypothesis which runs contrary to established criminological theory is voiced by Bem (1965). Although the initial empirical evidence in pilot study is for the differential identification to be prior to actual association with patterns of deviant behaviour, the subsequent full scale research would have to make an authoritative decision between these two conflicting hypotheses.

The ranking in an increasing order of permissiveness of attitudes towards experimentation with the various drugs is as follows:

  1. Experimentation with L.S.D. (1.56) [ 13]

  2. Experimentation with opiates (1.62)

  3. Experimentation with hashish (2.20)

  4. Experimentation with amphetamines (3.70)

  5. Experimentation with barbiturates (5.02)

It appears that the strongest attitude against experimentation is towards L.S.D. and opiates with a slightly stronger negative attitude towards L.S.D. This means that the accepted medical and scientific view about the dangers inherent in the use of L.S.D. and opiates is shared by the research population. After this, as may be expected, comes hashish. The attitude towards barbiturates and amphetamines is rather unexpected. However, the high degree of permissiveness towards barbiturates and amphetamines may signify ignorance of their abuse potential. Moreover, this shows that the use of barbiturates and amphetamines, conventional prescription drugs when used in small quantities, is not perceived as a formal drug abuse in Israel. This factor, too, is strongly coherent as indicated by the split half reliability which is r = .51 (P< .001, n = 391). [ 14]

Factor 3 - Legalization of drug use

This factor is, naturally, strongly related to the attitude towards experimentation with drugs. Those whose attitudes on this factor are permissive would naturally advocate legalization of drugs and would be high on the first factor, too.

The corresponding correlations are as follows:

Factor 1 with Factor 3 = .348 (p < .001)

Factor 2 with Factor 3 = .390 (p < .001)

The items included in this factor are as follows: [ 15]

Item 16a - legalization of hashish and marijuana (1.19). [ 16]

Item 16b - legalization of L.S.D. (1.05)

Item 16c - legalization of opium and heroin (1.04)

It should be noted, as expected, that the attitude towards legalization of cannabis is more lax than the attitude towards the legalization of L.S.D. and the opiates (e.g., degree of permissiveness of attitude towards the drugs mentioned above).

Factor 4 - Attitudes of relevant others toward drug use

These items show the effect of societal control through parents and peers towards drug use, as assimilated by the student. The items included in this factor are as follows:

Item 4 - are most of your friends in favour of drugs?

Item 8 - what would be your parents' reaction if they knew you used drugs?

Item 26 - would your parents oppose your association with persons who have used drugs?



The ranking of reasons against experimentation

Mental hazard
Fear of addiction
Physiological hazard
Loss of control of behaviour
Loss of mental ability
Not interesting
Endangering personal career
Influence of parents
Connexion with the underworld
Problems with police
Endangering the country's security
14. l
Friends' influence
Mores and religion
Teachers' influence

* Percentage of students (n = 391) choosing this item among 5 other items which they consider most relevant to non-experimentation with drugs.

An attempt was made to ascertain whether there is any conflict of attitudes between the research population, their parents and peers concerning drug use. That is, to find whether there is a conflict between parents' attitudes and peers' attitudes, and determine how such a potential discrepancy affects the student. The findings show that there is no significant difference in attitudes between peers and parents. This could be mainly attributed to the middle-class homogeneity of the present population.

The most conspicuous finding was that the lowest reasons were related to social mores, whereas the highest were related to personal, physical or mental dangers. This indicates presumably that the social harms of drug taking are considered relatively insignificant among the research population whereas personal hazard forms the strongest barrier against drug use.

This might have a practical implication as far as policy making is concerned. Propaganda against drug use might be more effective, according to this finding, if directed towards description of personal hazards related to drug use. This is upheld by the professed desire of the research population to be exposed to information about drugs which mostly relate to physiological and psychological effects, whereas they were relatively disinterested in legal or other aspects (see table 5).


Types of information the students wish to obtain

Psychological effects of drugs
Physiological effects of drugs
The legal aspects of drugs
Miscellaneous information
Not interested in any information about drugs

This notion of the personal motive is also demonstrated by the reasons given for drug use.


The ranking of reasons for experimentation with drugs

Escape from personal problems
Curiosity ("kicks")
Search for pleasure
Overcome inhibition
Protest against the establishment
To be "in"
Revolt against the family
Enhancing creativity
Influence of movies
To feel closer to people
Enhance the perception of one's senses
To gain self insight
To build a new society

*Percentage of students (n = 391) choosing this item among 5 others which they consider most relevant to experimentation with drugs.

The first four causes relate to solutions of personal problems as well as the search for pleasure and excitement. This is a rather egocentric attitude, which is not related to social involvement. Established reasons given in other societies, especially in the United States, that drug use is related to social protest, generation gap, enhancing creativity, and facilitation of social interaction fared rather low in the research population under study.

It would be interesting to note that there was no significant difference, as far as the reasons for use and non-use were concerned, between those who have and those who have not been offered drugs. An explanation might be that the given research population, believing in the personal hazards of drug taking or in the lack of social significance of its use, does not differentiate between those who were and those who were not involved with drugs. The crucial processes seem to be the differential identification and association with patterns of drug use. In other words, one may still be open to experimentation with drugs although one believes that drug use will be detrimental to one's body and psyche. However, this finding could be partly due to the fact that even the small number of students who actually used the drugs were not habitual or chronic users, but mere experimenters who used the drugs a few times only (only one used it more than 10 times).


It was hypothesized that the attitudes of the students towards drug use would be related to the amount and extent of their information about drugs. This in turn should be related to their willingness to be exposed to an offer of drugs and eventually to use them. It is proposed, therefore, to examine this hypothesis as well as the relationship of the knowledge about drug use with some relevant demographic variables.

The knowledge of drugs as studied related to:

  1. General knowledge: the description of drugs, their characteristics, effects, etc., and

  2. Practical knowledge: how to obtain drugs, prices, units of sale and their names.

As an over-all finding it may be stated that the extent of knowledge, both general and practical is rather limited. The average score of general knowledge is about 25 per cent, and the practical knowledge 3 per cent. [ 17]

The main methodological finding here is that Factor Analysis of the items relating to the general knowledge of drugs (practical knowledge was not analysed because of the low level of this knowledge) revealed 8 independent factors which did not seem to be related to each other and dealt with specific drug intake and their effects. [ 18] This validates our questionnaire and lends it a solid reliability especially as the split half reliability is r = .76 (p < .001, n = 391). [ 19]

The major finding in this context is that the correlation between knowledge of drugs and the four attitudinal factors are very low with practical knowledge and, with general knowledge practically non-existent. (see table 7). Although it is rather dangerous to draw far-fetched conclusions from scant correlations, if may be stated with reservation that the hypothesis about the link between attitudes and generalinformation is rejected. This could mean that the claim that general knowledge about drugs influences attitudes - a view strongly supported by various anti-drug propagandists is not upheld by our findings. In other words, judging from findings in this study - the mere promulgation of information as a medium for dealing with drug abuse is, apparently, not effective. This should be evaluated in view of the fact that there is a significant correlation between attitudes towards experimentation and the exposure to sollicitation (see table 2), which in turn was related to the actual use of drugs (see table 15).

Drug abuse among Israeli youth 21

TABLE 7 Intercorrelation between the attitudinal factors and knowledge about drugs


Factor 1

Factor 2

Factor 3

Factor 4

General knowledge
Practical knowledge

* p< .001, n = 391.

It should be stressed that the above conclusion should be taken as a prima facie finding to be tested further in the full-fledged research. This finding, which is of utmost importance if found to be conclusive, must be carefully isolated and tested with proper controls in the subsequent research itself. At this stage, the findings might be attributed to the rather low level of knowledge of drugs amongst the research population. It might be hypothesized that a high level of knowledge would be significantly related to the attitudinal factors so that more information would be related to a negative attitude towards drugs.

Practical knowledge is correlated, although by a rather low correlation, with the factors of value judgment, experimentation with drugs, and attitudes towards legalization of drugs. This again should be retested in the full scale research.

However, despite these findings Sutherland's (1970) claim that one learns deviant behaviour by practical exposure to these patterns of behaviour and not through a vicarious knowledge of the deviant ways of life is partially upheld here.

The differences in correlation between general knowledge and practical experience, if subsequently supported by the findings of the full scale research, could have extensive theoretical and practical significance. This could be a partial verification of a criminological theory that deviant and criminal behaviour is learned by direct contact and not by imitation through knowledge as claimed by Bandura, A. (1962); Bandura, A., Ross, D.A. and Ross, S.A. (1961); and Bandura, A. and Walters, R.H. (1963). Also, the value of propaganda and its techniques should be re-evaluated especially as related to the differences between the items of general knowledge and practical experience.


There was found to be no correlation between relationships with parents and the general and practical knowledge about drugs. This could relate to the previous finding that our research population did not relate drug use to the generation gap (as revealed by the relatively low ranking of this reason as a cause of drug use (see Table 6); and by the fact that threre is no significant discrepancy in attitudes towards drugs between parents and peers (see page 19).

In regard to attitudes towards legalization of drugs, boys in the studied population were found to be more permissive than girls (see table 8). Also, the boys were found to be more knowledgeable about drugs than girls (see tables 9, 10). These findings are in line with those of studies carried out abroad. (Grupp, S.E., McCain, M.J., Schmitt, R.L., 1971; Garfield, E.F., Boreing, E.F., Smith, J.P., 1971).

Finally, there was found to be no correlation whatsoever between tobacco smoking and information about drugs.


Attitudes towards legalization of drugs as related to the students' sex


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


106 62 168
164 57 221
270 119 389

X [ 2] = 5.04, p.<.05, df = 1.


Practical knowledge about drugs* as related to the students' sex


Scant knowledge

Extensive knowledge


67 101 168
131 90 221
198 191 389

X 2 = 13.6, p<.001, df = 1.

The categories of scant knowledge and extensive knowledge were defined according to the distribution of scores by the median.


General knowledge about drugs* as related to the students' sex


Scant knowledge

Extensive knowledge


66 102 168
135 86 221
201 188 389

X 2 = 17.30, p<.001, df = 1.

The categories of scant knowledge and extensive knowledge were defined according to the distribution of scores by the median.


Amongst the research population (n = 391) only eleven students used hashish at least once, and only one reported the use of opium. As for the question, "would you like to use cannabis at least once?" 47 students (12.0%) answered in the affirmative. 19 students (4.9%) were ready to use L.S.D. and 15 students (3.8%) were prepared to use opiates.

This ranking is in keeping with attitudinal results, that is with regard to the negative attitudes to various types of drugs, ranging from cannabis to the opiates. (See sections on attitudinal Factors 2 and 3.)

The main methodological finding in our present context is the high correlation of self-reported drug use (hashish) and the quantitative estimate of drug use given by the students (see page 11).

Responses such as "don't know" and "no response" were not taken into consideration; the mean estimate in a certain class was compared with the number of self reports.

The correlation between these two indices, r = .66, for the 16 classes in our sample, seems to lend support to the validity of the self report device in this research project.

The interrelationship between the experimentation with drugs and the attitudinal factors towards drugs were found to be as follows: of those to whom drugs were offered (n = 58), 42 students (78 %) expressed positive value judgment (see table 11).


The relation between attitudinal factor 1 (value judgment) and being offered drugs


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


Has not been offered drugs .
176 151 327
Has been offered drugs
16 42 58
192 193 385

X 2 = 14.47, p<.001, df = 1.


The relation between attitudinal factor 3 (attitudes towards legalization of drugs) and being offered drugs


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


Have not been offered drugs
245 82 327
Have been offered drugs
24 34 58
269 116 385

X 2 = 26.28, p<.001, df = 1.

As already mentioned, the readiness to be exposed to drugs is related to a favourable attitude towards experimentation with drugs (see table 2). This in essence indicates that a favourable attitude towards drugs induces the students to be not only passive, but also active in their involvement with drugs (see table 1). This also supports the view already expressed, that the readiness to identify with a certain role predisposes one to take on the actual role. The same holds true for Factor 3 although to a somewhat lesser degree; 34 students (58%) of those who were exposed to a drug were in favour of its legalization (see table 12).

It is interesting to note that in all 3 factors, those who actually used a drug were predisposed towards it, or in favour of experimenting with it, and of its legalization.

There was no significant link between exposure to drugs and attitudes of parents and peers towards their use.

It may be interesting to note that a similar degree of positive value judgment towards drugs (see table 13), a favourable attitude towards experimentation with drugs (see table 3), and towards its legalization (see table 14) was expressed by those who professed to have associated with drug users (n = 99).


The relation between factor 1 (value judgment) and association with a drug user (under the influence of drugs)


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


No association
157 130 287
35 64 99
192 194 386

X 2 = 11.01, p<.001, df = 1.


The relation between attitudinal factor 3 (attitudes towards legalization of drugs) and association with a drug user


Negative attitude

Positive attitude


No association
221 66 287
48 51 99
269 117 386

X 2 = 28.34, p<.001, df = 1.

This would presumably be the step taken before actually being offered a drug. It does however illustrate very clearly the processes of what Sutherland called the "differential association with patterns of deviant behaviour".

In other words there is a progression from being in favour attitudinally of drug use, through readiness to be involved in drug experimentation to association with drug users and finally actually being offered the drug itself. This, in a way, is a partial verification of the "differential association" as well as Glaser's "differential identification" theory.

Finally, there is an over-all multiple regression of 10 variables which have been hypothesized as being related to involvement with drugs. The relationship of these variables and their relative effect on the dependent variable (involvement with drugs) is presented in table 15.


Multiple regression of variables related to involvement with drugs (summary table)


Multiple R*

R square

RSQ change

Simple R

Attitudinal factor 1
Being offered drugs
General knowledge
Attitudinal factor 2
Practical knowledge
Age .
Attitudinal factor 3
Association with drug users
Attitudinal factor 4 (constant)

* "Multiple R" is the coefficient of multiple correlation for the prediction of involvement with drugs from the cumulative list of independent variables. "R [ 2] ", the squared multiple correlation, indicates the proportion of variance of the dependent variable explained by the best linear combination of the independent variables. The "RSQ change" is the amount added to R [ 2] by adding the last independent variable to the equation, and therefore: the proportion of variance explained by this variable alone, after controlling for the other independent variables. "Simple R" is the product-moment correlation between the independent and dependent variables.

It appears that the variable most closely related to involvement with drugs (which has been measured by readiness to experiment with drugs and actual experimentation) is favourable value judgment towards drug use (attitudinal Factor 1). Then comes the variables of "being offered drugs," general knowledge about drugs, favourable attitude towards experimentation with drugs (attitudinal Factor 2), and practical knowledge about drugs. The other variables were of negative effect on the dependent variable.

The over-all conclusion, both for theory and policy making, is that the all-important condition is the normative legitimation or non-legitimation of drug use. Only when there is a marked normative legitimation of drug use will the other practical steps towards exposure take place. In other words, any policy-maker should aim at creating a normative barrier to be assimilated by the students. Whereas the actual supply, demand and techniques of use seem to be secondary factors in drug involvement, these normative barriers have a better chance to be created, according to our finding, if more authoritative and more precise information on personal, physical and mental hazards involved in drug use is supplied to the students.

As these seem to be the variables most highly correlated with negative attitudes towards drug use, the claim that exposure to propaganda about the hazards of drug use might increase the experimentation with drugs, seemed to be unfounded according to present preliminary findings.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that this pilot study on 400 students from a relatively homogeneous social structure yielded enough findings of marked significance, both theoretical and practical, to justify a full-scale epidemiological study of involvement with drugs in Israel .


Bandura, A. (1962), "Social Learning Through Imitation," in M. R. Jones, Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 1962, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, pp. 211-269.

Bandura, A., D. Ross, and S.A Ross (1961), "Transmission of Agression Through Imitation of Agressive Models,". Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, pp. 575-582, 1963.

Bandura, A. and R. H. Walters (1963), Social Learning and Personality Development, New York: Holt.

Bem, D. J. (1965), "An Experimental Analysis of Self-Persuasion," Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1, 199-218.

Berg, D. F. (1970), "The Non-Medical Use of Dangerous Drugs in the United States: A Comprehensive View," The Intl. Journ. of the Addictions, Vol. 5(4), pp. 777-834, December 1970.

Berman, I. (1969), "Sker al Avaryancy Samim Be'Israel - 1967" (Survey of drug criminals in Israel during 1967), Research Department of the Welfare Ministry of Israel.

Cronbach, L. J. (1961), Essentials of Psychological Testing, 2nd ed., Harper international ed.

Garfield, E. F., E. F. Boreing, and J. P. Smith (1971), "Marijuana Use on a Campus: Spring 1969," The International Journal of the Addictions, Vol. 6(3), pp. 487-491, September 1971.

Glaser, D. (1956), "Criminality Theories and Behavioral Images," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 61 (March 1956), pp. 433-444.

Grupp, S. E., M. J. McCain, and R. L. Schmitt (1971), "Marijuana Use in a Small College: A Midwest Example," The International Journal of the Addictions, Vol. 6(3), pp. 463-485, September 1971.

Kreitler H. and S. Kreitler (1971), "Conceptual Meaning and Youth Unrest: A Cross-Cultural Pilot Study," A paper presented at the International Symposium on Youth Unrest, Tel Aviv, Israel, October 1971.

Lévy-Bruhl, L. (1947), La Mentalité primitive, Press universitaire de France.

Miller, L. (1970), "Drug Abuse in Israel," A paper presented at the International Symposium on Drug Abuse, Jerusalem, Israel, August 1970.

Oppenheim, A. W. (1966), Questionnaire Design and Attitude Measurement, Basic Books, Inc., New York.

Rossi, H. P. and E. W. Groves (1971), Life Styles and Campus Communities: A National Survey of American Colleges and Universities, Spring 1971 (a questionnaire).

Shoham, S. (1970), "Cultural Factors Associated with Cannabis in Israel," in Betesh, S. (ed.), Drug Abuse: Non-Medical Use of Dependence Producing Drugs. Plenum Publishing Corp., New York, pp. 48-60.

Sutherland, E.H. and D.R. Cressey (1970), Criminology, 8th edition, Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company.

Zanes, A. (1970), Make Yourself Heard: Teen-Age Drug Study (a questionnaire).

APPENDIX A Factor analysis of attitude items* Rotated Factor Matrix









* BMDX72 - Factor analysis--revised Varimax orthogonae rotation is performed.














1. The questionnaire was distributed between 25.3.73 and 30.3.73.


2. The weighted computation of the index for the socio-economic position was described on page 12.


3. See Appendix A.


4. The latitude of acceptance for most of the items is 1-7: 1 relates to an extreme anti-drug attitude and 7 relates to an extreme pro-drug attitude.


5. The median of sample distribution of items (n=391).


6. The latitude of acceptance of this item range from 1-3: 1 anti-drug attitude and 3 pro-drug attitude.


7. The distinction between negative and positive attitudes has been obtained by dividing the frequency distribution by the median.


8. When using the Rulon correlation formula for split half reliability we get r=.84 (Cronbach, 1961).


9. The latitude of acceptance for all the following items is 1 7: 1 relates to an extreme anti-drug attitude and 7 relates to an extreme pro-drug attitude.


10. The median of sample distribution of items (n=391).


13. The median of sample distribution (n=391).


14. When using the Rulon correlation formula for split half reliability we get r=.67 (Cronbach, 1961).


15. The response categories for these items were (1) against legalization, (2) conditional legalization, (3) unconditional legalization.


16. The median of our sample on each item (n=391).


17. Raw scores transformed into percentages.


18. See Appendix B.


19. When using the Rulon correlation formula for split half reliability we get r=.86.