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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Drug abuses : perceptions of regional college science students Gentles, Helen Rosemaree


Ways in which regional college students perceive drug abuses, their levels of moral reasoning, their attitudes toward drug abuses and the interrelationships among these variables were investigated. The intent was to present this information on these variables in such a way that teachers involved in drug education could readily accommodate to these variables to facilitate learning. Multidimensional scaling, using the IKDSCAL model, was employed to determine the number of dimensions that would span perceptions of the drug abuses; to provide the saliences of each dimension; and to describe the qualitative nature of these perceptions. On analysis it was found that the perceptions were three-dimensional in nature and that, generally, the group only differentiated between cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol. The other drugs were grouped together. The test on moral reasoning placed this group well below the expected level, probably due to the inherent characteristics of this diverse group. The test on attitudes indicated unfavourableness toward drug abuses. On graphing the perceptions of drug abuses and levels of moral reasoning it was found that those students who demonstrated high levels of moral reasoning on the moral dilemmas test clustered highly on all dimensions. On the other hand, on graphing the perceptions of drug abuses and attitudes toward drug abuses the students who obtained the highest and the lowest scores on the attitude test did not exhibit any clustering on any of the dimensions. The results of this study stress the lack of discrimination between beneficial drugs and addictive, mind-destroying drugs. This distressing finding, plus the rather low levels of moral reasoning demonstrated by this group, indicates that a strong teaching program, comprising science classes on drug action and a component on the development of moral principles, is urgently required.

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