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Subst Use Misuse. 2012 Aug;47(10):1159-71. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2012.686142. Epub 2012 May 24.

A model of school problems, academic failure, alcohol initiation, and the relationship to adult heroin injection.

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Department of Psychology and Social Work, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522, USA.


The current study uses structural equation modeling to investigate factors associated with alcohol initiation and injection heroin use. Baseline data from the NEURO-HIV Epidemiologic Study in Baltimore, Maryland, were used. Participants were 404 injection heroin users (M(age) = 32.72) with a history of regular injection in their lifetime. Latent variables were created for self-reported school problems and academic failure. The final model indicated that greater school problems were associated with earlier alcohol initiation (ß = -0.22, p < .001) and earlier alcohol initiation was associated with greater frequency of recent heroin use (ß = -0.12, p < .05). Academic failure was directly related to greater frequency of recent heroin injection (ß = 0.15, p < .01). The results expand research investigating the relationship between adolescent behavior and illicit drug use in adulthood.

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