The Association Between Loneliness and Substance use Among Dutch College Students
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Substance use frequently occurs among college students and increases the risk of mental and physical health problems. To combat these health problems, it is important to understand factors associated with substance use. Previous studies suggested that loneliness is associated with substance use among adolescents. Most of that literature focused on high-school students, while substance use is a more frequent problem among college students. Therefore, the current study examines the association between loneliness and substance use among college students. This study uses cross-sectional data of the YOUth Got Talent study. A total of 851 students were included in the analysis, with a mean age of 17.14 (SD = 1.54). Results show that students experiencing more loneliness drink alcohol less frequently and are less likely to use tobacco than students experiencing less loneliness. Additionally, experiencing loneliness is not associated with cannabis use. Furthermore, the relation between loneliness and alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use was similar for boys and girls. Even though previous literature stated that loneliness is associated with more substance use, this study shows that it is not the case among college students. Due to small effect sizes and the cross-sectional nature of this study, further research is needed.