“His heart is hardening, but his BRAIN is softening”: Life experiences of adolescents using psychoactive substances: A qualitative study

Kara H., KARAKAYA D., Çoban Ö. G.

Journal of Pediatric Nursing, vol.73, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 73
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.pedn.2023.09.026
  • Journal Name: Journal of Pediatric Nursing
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, ASSIA, CINAHL, MEDLINE, DIALNET
  • Keywords: Adolescent, Life experience, Nursing, Qualitative research, Substance use disorder
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: The aim of the research was to portray the life experiences of adolescents using psychoactive substances with regard to their substance use. Design and methods: This study was carried out in a descriptive phenomenological design, which is a qualitative research method. A purposeful sampling method, was used. The sample consisted of 15 adolescents who were treated for a history of substance use. The data were collected by the face-to-face individual interview method. A personal information form and a semi-structured interview form were used to collect data. The content analysis approach proposed by Graneheim and Lundman was used in the analysis of the data. Data were analyzed using the N-VIVO-10 Pro-package program. Results: Four main themes and thirteen sub-themes were determined: experiences before substance use (sub-themes: life before substance use, predisposing factors for substance use), experiences during substance use (sub-themes: symptoms of addiction, problems caused by substance use, family attitude to substance use, the meaning attached to substances) and experiences of the treatment process (sub-themes: motivation, difficulties experienced during treatment, the need for support, treatment results), prevention recommendations (sub-themes: for peers, for families, for society). Conclusions: Many individual, family and social risk factors had an effect on the adolescents starting to use the substances. They were exposed to negative physical, mental, economic, social and life experiences. Practice implications: Nurses working with adolescents who use substances can implement nursing interventions such as prevention activities, counselling, health education, coping and strengthening self-esteem in individual and school based interventions.