Longitudinal Family Effects on Substance Use Among an At-Risk Adolescent Sample

Published in: Addictive Behaviors, v. 41, Feb. 2015, p. 185-191

Posted on RAND.org on November 07, 2014

by Brett Ewing, Karen Chan Osilla, Eric R. Pedersen, Sarah B. Hunter, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

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OBJECTIVE: Adult and peer factors may influence whether adolescents use alcohol and other drugs (AOD). This longitudinal study examined the direct effects of adult monitoring, perceived adult AOD use, and cultural values on adolescent AOD use. METHODS: Participants were 193 at-risk adolescents referred to a California diversion program called Teen Court for a first-time AOD offense. We assessed youth reports of past 30 day AOD use (any alcohol use, heavy drinking, marijuana use), demographics, changes in parental monitoring and family values (from baseline to follow-up 180 days later), as well as family structure and perceived adult substance use at follow-up. RESULTS: Adolescents who reported that a significant adult in their life used marijuana were more likely to have increased days of drinking, heavy drinking, and marijuana use at follow-up. Higher levels of familism (importance the teen places on their family's needs over their own needs) and being in a nuclear family served as protective factors for future alcohol use. Additionally, poor family management was associated with increased alcohol use and heavy drinking. CONCLUSION: Findings highlight how family management and perceptions of adult marijuana use influence subsequent adolescent AOD use, and how an increase in familism over time is associated with a decrease in adolescent drinking. Tailoring interventions, by including the teen's family and/or providing support to adults who use AOD may be crucial for improving interventions for adolescent AOD use.

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