Life on the Western Front of Israel Stressful Living Conditions and Adolescent Cannabis Use

  • Itay Pruginin
  • Richard Isralowitz
  • Alexander Reznik
  • Inbal Berman
Brief Report
  • 16 Downloads

Abstract

Negative implications of exposure to violence on health and well-being of youth have been observed and studied worldwide and especially in Israel. Youth in the Western Negev of the country have been exposed to missile and terror attacks for more than a decade. However, implications of such prolonged exposure have not been fully studied. This study is aimed at the implications of exposure to such conditions on youth in the town of Ofakim in the Negev. A focus group was conducted with youth following the Israeli Defense Forces’ “Protective Edge” response to continued attacks from Gaza (July–August 2014). Focus group participants reported high stress levels during the operation that resulted in an increase of substance use including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and synthetic cannabis-like substances (e.g., “Nice Guy,” “Spice,” and “Black Mamba”) and changes in eating and sleeping behavior. The Ofakim resilience center served as a shelter for participants providing for them with physical and emotional comfort. Staying in the “shelter” used for protection against missile attack promoted youth resilience. Exposure to violence has a significant impact on the health and well-being of young people and others. A secure receptive facility that provides trust and support can serve as an important moderator of the negative impact of emergency conditions. From the results reported in this article, further research is needed to fully assess the long-term effects of stress conditions including the use of cannabis and synthetic cannabis-like substances among youth and other residents in the Western Negev.

Keywords

Resilience Missile attack Terrorism Youth Substance use Risk-taking behaviors 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to express their appreciation to the following people: Dr. James Halpern, director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH), for sharing his knowledge and experience; Prof. Patricia Findley, Rutgers School of Social Work, for her comprehensive training in focus group research methods; and Ms. Yahaloma Zchut, director of the Ofakim resilience center, and her staff for their cooperation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Informed consent was received for the information collected and reported in this paper, and all human and animal rights were protected.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Aviad-Wilchek, Y., Ne’eman-Haviv, V., & Malka, M. (2016). Connection between suicidal ideation, life meaning, and leisure time activities. Deviant Behavior, 38(6), 621–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berger, R., Gelkopf, M., & Heineberg, Y. (2012). A teacher-delivered intervention for adolescents exposed to ongoing and intense traumatic war-related stress: a quasi- randomized controlled study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(5), 453–461.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Besser, A., & Neria, Y. (2009). PTSD symptoms, satisfaction with life, and prejudicial attitudes toward the adversary among Israeli civilians exposed to ongoing missile attacks. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 22(4), 268–275.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Besser, A., Neria, Y., & Haynes, M. (2009). Adult attachment, perceived stress, and PTSD among civilians exposed to ongoing terrorist attacks in Southern Israel. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(8), 851–857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Besser, A., Zeigler-Hill, V., Weinberg, M., Pincus, A. L., & Neria, Y. (2015). Intrapersonal resilience moderates the association between exposure-severity and PTSD symptoms among civilians exposed to the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. Self and Identity, 14(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bleich, A., Gelkopf, M., Melamed, Y., & Solomon, Z. (2006). Mental health and resiliency following 44 months of terrorism: a survey of an Israeli national representative sample. BMC Medicine, 4(1), 21–32.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bonanno, G. A., Galea, S., Bucciarelli, A., & Vlahov, D. (2006). Psychological resilience after disaster New York City in the aftermath of the September 11th Terrorist Attack. Psychological Science, 17(3), 181–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Dekel, R., & Nuttman-Shwartz, O. (2009). Posttraumatic stress and growth: the contribution of cognitive appraisal and sense of belonging to the country. Health & Social Work, 34(2), 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eshel, Y., & Kimhi, S. (2011). Perceived beneficial and detrimental postwar responses of Israeli adults: are they positively or negatively linked to each other? International Journal of Stress Management, 18(3), 284–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Galea, S., Ahern, J., Resnick, H., Kilpatrick, D., Bucuvalas, M., Gold, J., & Vlahov, D. (2002). Psychological sequelae of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(13), 982–987.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Gelkopf, M., Berger, R., Bleich, A., & Silver, R. C. (2012). Protective factors and predictors of vulnerability to chronic stress: a comparative study of 4 communities after 7 years of continuous rocket fire. Social Science & Medicine, 74(5), 757–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gelkopf, M., Solomon, Z., & Bleich, A. (2013). A longitudinal study of changes in psychological responses to continuous terrorism. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 50(2), 100–109.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Grinstein-Cohen, O., & Wacht, O. (2018). The rise of synthetic cannabinoids in Israel. Presentation at the meeting of health implications of marijuana use: the Colorado experience for informed decision-making in Israel. Beer Sheva: Ben Gurion University.Google Scholar
  14. Halpern, J., & Tramontin, M. (2007). Disaster mental health: theory and practice. Belmont: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  15. Heinrich, C. C., & Shahar, G. (2013). Effects of exposure to rocket attacks on adolescent distress and violence: a 4-year longitudinal study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 52(6), 619–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hobfoll, S. E., Palmieri, P. A., Johnson, R. J., Canetti-Nisim, D., Hall, B. J., & Galea, S. (2009). Trajectories of resilience, resistance, and distress during ongoing terrorism: the case of Jews and Arabs in Israel. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(1), 138–148.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kaplan, Z., Matar, M. A., Kamin, R., Sadan, T., & Cohen, H. (2005). Stress-related responses after 3 years of exposure to terror in Israel: are ideological-religious factors associated with resilience? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 66(9), 1146–1154.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lahad, M., & Leykin, D. (2010). Ongoing exposure versus intense periodic exposure to military conflict and terror attacks in Israel. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23(6), 691–698.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Linhorst, D. M. (2002). A review of the use and potential of focus groups in social work research. Qualitative Social Work, 1, 208–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pat-Horenczyk, R., Peled, O., Miron, T., Brom, D., Villa, Y., & Chemtob, C. (2007). Risk-taking behaviors among Israeli adolescents exposed to recurrent terrorism: provoking danger under continuous threat? American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(1), 66–72.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Schiff, M., & Fang, L. (2014). Adolescent substance use in Israel: the roles of exposure to political traumas and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(2), 453–464.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Schiff, M., Benbenishty, R., McKay, M., DeVoe, E., Liu, X., & Hasin, D. (2006). Exposure to terrorism and Israeli youths’ psychological distress and alcohol use: an exploratory study. American Journal on Addictions, 15(3), 220–226.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Solomon, Z., Berger, R., & Ginzburg, K. (2007). Resilience of Israeli body handlers: implications of repressive coping style. Traumatology, 13(4), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Somer, E., Buchbinder, E., Peled-Avram, M., & Ben-Yizhack, Y. (2004). The stress and coping of Israeli emergency room social workers following terrorist attacks. Qualitative Health Research, 14(8), 1077–1093.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. State of Israel. (2015). The 2014 Gaza conflict: factual and legal aspects. Retrieved from http://mfa.gov.il/ProtectiveEdge/Documents/2014GazaConflictFullReport.pdf
  26. Ursano, R. J., Goldenberg, M., Zhang, L., Carlton, J., Fullerton, C. S., Li, H., Johnson, L., & Benedek, D. (2010). Posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic stress: from bench to bedside, from war to disaster. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1208(1), 72–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research CenterBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael
  2. 2.RADAR CenterBen Gurion UniversityBeer ShevaIsrael

Personalised recommendations