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Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Jun 1;61(11):1223-7. Epub 2006 Nov 27.

Testosterone levels and sexual maturation predict substance use disorders in adolescent boys: a prospective study.

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  • 1Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA. <>



This investigation determined whether testosterone level and sexual maturation in boys biased development of socially nonnormative behavior culminating in a substance use disorder (SUD).


The subjects were 179 boys recruited in late childhood through a high-risk paradigm. Path analysis was used to evaluate the influence of testosterone level and sexual maturation in early adolescence (age 12-14) on attitudes toward antisociality, affiliation with deviant peers, and social potency in middle adolescence (age 16), illicit drug use by late adolescence (age 19), and SUD in young adulthood (age 22).


Testosterone level predicted social potency and approval of aggressive/antisocial behavior. Sexual maturation mediated the relation between testosterone level in early adolescence and later affiliation with deviant peers. Social potency, approval of aggressive/antisocial behavior, and deviant peer affiliations predicted illicit drug use by late adolescence that in turn predicted SUD in young adulthood.


This study demonstrated that pubertal processes in early adolescence influence the risk for SUD via effects on psychosocial functioning.

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