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J Stud Alcohol Suppl. 1999 Mar;13:22-31.

The development of alcohol and other substance use: a gender study of family and peer context.

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Oregon Research Institute, Eugene 97403-1983, USA.



This study examined early school-based academic and social variables with concurrent family conflict in predicting adolescent alcohol and other drug use.


365 children were assessed initially in grades 2-4 on academic-related and social behavior variables using teacher ratings and rankings, peer nominations and ratings and direct observation of playground and classroom behavior. They were reassessed in grades 9-10, using interviews and questionnaires to determine the initiation and sequence of their use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other hard drugs.


In three sets of analyses, independently for males and females, lifetime abstainers were compared with adolescents who had used (1) only alcohol; (2) alcohol and tobacco; (3) alcohol, tobacco and marijuana; and (4) all three plus other hard drugs. The drug classifications represent a normative-deviant continuum of adolescent drug use. Constructs were developed for early academic and social predictors as well as concurrent family conflict. The results showed more wide-ranging academic and social difficulties during elementary school for children falling at the more deviant end of the drug use continuum. For girls, the concurrent home environment appeared to moderate the effect of early academic and social variables.


Substance use established by ages 14-15 can be predicted by academic and social behavior displayed at ages 7-9. This suggests that prevention efforts for alcohol and other drugs may be more effective if directed at earlier antecedent behaviors rather than those that are concurrent with substance use.

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