Young volunteers unlikely to use drugs

Young people who choose to volunteer are less likely to abuse substances, new research has suggested.

Carried out at the University of Missouri, the investigation discovered that rural adolescents who take part in pro-social behaviours do not smoke marijuana or consume as much alcohol as their peers.

Gustavo Carlo, Millsap Professor of Diversity in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, found that these activities tend to safeguard youngsters from getting caught up in risky pastimes. He said:

"Pro-social behaviours are good for society and communities, but also they are a marker of moral development. Parents want their kids to be kind, selfless, considerate and respectful."

Professor Carlo added that there is now evidence to prove tasks such as volunteering decrease the likelihood that a youth might break moral codes by drinking and taking drugs.

Professor Richard Hammersley, Chartered Psychologist, supported the findings but noted that the results had raised more questions:

“The big question is whether prosocial behaviours are simply indicators of happier, better adjusted people, who will use substances less, or whether prosocial behaviours could help people become happier and better adjusted?

“Missing from the study are data about what had happened to young people, to compliment data on what they did. Some of the heaviest substance users have traumatic, challenging lives, which need repair.

“Could volunteer work help bring them out of themselves? Not the whole answer, but worth exploring.”