The study sought to assess if there is an association between emotional intelligence (EI) with illicit drug use in adolescents, and if this link is independent of social and parental variables. In this cross-sectional study, 990 randomly selected adolescents (age 15 - 17) from public high schools in Tehran, Iranian capital, were interviewed in 2006. The independent data consisted of EI (measured by the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory) and also demographic characteristics (age and sex), family-related data (number of siblings and having an intact family), education-related data (attitude towards school and school achievement), parental and environmental data of illicit drug use and the outcome was “a history of illicit drug use amongst adolescents”. Our logistic regression model showed that the correlates of a history of illicit drug use in the adolescents were “the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory score” (P < 0.001) alongside “family history of illicit drug use” (P < 0.001), “witnessing illicit drug use” (P < 0.014), “peer encouragement of illicit drug use” (P = 0.006), “school achievement” (P < 0.001), and “attitude towards school” (P = 0.007). Our results indicated a link between EI and a history of illicit drug use in Iranian adolescents, independent of other social factors. It is advisable that policymakers pay heed to this association in devising preventive measures against illicit drug use amongst adolescents.
Key words: Adolescents, Illicit drug use, emotional intelligence, social risk factors.
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