Aims: The objectives of the study were to (a) investigate the prevalence risk of current drug users and (b) explore the association between parental monitoring, adolescent-parent relationship, family structure, financial status, and sensation-seeking and psychotropic substance use.
Methods: Data were drawn from the 2002 Italian student population survey of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs. The sample size was 10,790 adolescents, aged 15–19 years. Multivariate logistic analyses were performed.
Findings: The prevalence of users was 27.3% (34.2% males; 21.6% females). Single-parent and reconstructed families were related to the greatest likelihood of substance use. A medium financial status and, for females, a satisfying relationship with father were protective factors. Probability of engaging in risk-taking behavior increased when parental knowledge decreased. Exploring deeper how parental monitoring could modify the relation between different traits of sensation seeking and substances use revealed the following: “thrill and adventure seeking,” within the case of a good monitoring, can help against the use of substances; “boredom susceptibility” is not associated with drug use, except when parental monitoring is weak.
Conclusions: Specific subdimensions, associated with substance use, may be more amenable to prevention than general interventions on sensation-seeking personality. Family is the context that could promote health education.