TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - April 5, 2006 (UPI)- A Florida State University study finds boys who have very low self-esteem and friends who approve of drug and alcohol are at higher risk for addiction.

Sociology professors John Taylor and Donald Lloyd, along with University of Miami professor emeritus George Warheit, found that low self-esteem and peer approval of drug use at age 11 predicted drug dependency at age 20. The researchers analyzed data from a multi-ethnic sample of 872 boys collected over a period of nine years.

"Low self-esteem is kind of the spark plug for self-destructive behaviors, and drug use is one of these," Taylor said. "It's a fundamental need to have a good sense of self. Without it, people may become pathologically unhappy with themselves, and that can lead to some very serious problems."

The study was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.