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Psychol Health Med. 2011 May;16(3):249-67. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2010.532560.

Understanding early-onset drug and alcohol outcomes among youth: the role of family structure, social factors, and interpersonal perceptions of use.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, USA.


Research on adolescents focuses increasingly on features of the family in predicting and preventing illicit substance use. Multivariate analyses of data from the National Survey of Parents and Youth (N=4173) revealed numerous significant differences on risk variables associated with family structure on adolescent drug-related perceptions and substance use. Youth from dual-parent households were least likely to use drugs and were monitored more closely than single-parent youth (p<0.001). A path analytic model estimated to illuminate linkages among theoretically implicated variables revealed that family income and child's gender (p<0.001), along with family structure (p<0.05), affected parental monitoring, but not parental warmth. Monitoring and warmth, in turn, predicted adolescents' social and interpersonal perceptions of drug use (p<0.001), and both variables anticipated adolescents' actual drug use one year later (p<0.001). Results reconfirm the importance of parental monitoring and warmth and demonstrate the link between these variables, adolescents' social and intrapersonal beliefs, and their use of illicit substances.

© 2011 Taylor & Francis

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