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

Itay Pruginin, Richard Isralowitz, Alexander Reznik, Inbal Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Negative implications of exposure to violence on health and wellbeing of youth have been observed and studied worldwide, 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–Aug. 2014). Focus group participants reported high stress levels during the operation that resulted in an increase of substance use including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, 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 wellbeing 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-859
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Resilience
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Substance use
  • Terror
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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