Does Solitary Substance Use Increase Adolescents' Risk for Poor Psychosocial and Behavioral Outcomes?

A 9-Year Longitudinal Study Comparing Solitary and Social Users

Published in: Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, v. 20, no. 4, Dec. 2006, p. 363-372

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Joan S. Tucker, Phyllis L. Ellickson, Rebecca L. Collins, David J. Klein

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This longitudinal study compared Grade 8 solitary cigarette smokers (n = 541), drinkers (n = 577), and marijuana users (n = 148) with adolescents who restricted their use of these substances to social settings (ns = 562, 1,426, and 388, respectively) on adolescent functioning and young adult outcomes. In Grade 8, solitary users held more positive beliefs about the consequences of substance use, earned poorer grades, engaged in more deviant behavior, and devoted less time to school and more time to social activities. By age 23, these solitary users had lower educational attainment, poorer self-rated health, and greater substance use problems. Results indicate the importance of better understanding and addressing the needs of this understudied group of high-risk youth.

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