Background: Despite research examining the relationship between discrimination and alcohol use and delinquency among adolescents, little is understood about the mechanism behind the relationship. Objectives: On the basis of Strain Theory, the current study examined a new theoretical model in which feelings of alienation (from the self, peers, and Israeli society) mediate the relationship between discrimination and alcohol use and delinquency. Methods: A one-year follow-up study was conducted with 146 at-risk youth from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia in Israel (63% male), from disadvantaged low socioeconomic neighborhoods. At Time 1 (T1), adolescents were asked about their experiences of discrimination, feelings of alienation, and levels of problem alcohol use (past month/ever drunkenness, past month binge drinking, and regular daily drinking). At time 2 (T2), the participants were again asked as to their experiences of alienation, alcohol use, and delinquency. Results: Perceived discrimination at T1 significantly predicted feelings of alienation at T2, when controlling for the relationship with alienation at T1. Feelings of alienation (from the self and Israeli society) fully mediated the relationship between discrimination and alcohol use. However, there was a direct relationship between discrimination and delinquency. Conclusions: Findings emphasize the negative impact of discrimination on adolescents. They suggest that during the critical developmental period of adolescence, feelings of discrimination may be internalized into negative emotions which may lead to involvement in deviant behaviors. Results suggest a need to help adolescents process and make sense of the discriminatory experiences they perceive.
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- alcohol use