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Subst Use Misuse. 1998 Sep;33(11):2219-62.

Stressful life events and adolescent substance use and depression: conditional and gender differentiated effects.

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National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, Washington Office, DC 20036, USA.


Stressful life circumstances have myriad influences on human health and behavior. Early research focused on the variable distribution of stress and its effects by socioeconomic status, race, and gender. More recent research indicates that variation by age is also an important consideration. For example, adolescent reactions to stressful life events are often inconsistent with adult reactions to similar life situations and transitions. Moreover, since most studies assess only a single outcome--usually depression--they risk classification bias since analyses exclude other potential stress-related outcomes. This paper assesses the gender distinct effects of stressful life events on two outcomes among adolescents, substance use and depressive symptoms. The results of a second-order regression model indicate that life events affect female, but not male, depressive symptoms, especially when self-esteem is low or mastery is high. Furthermore, life events affect substance use when peer drug use is high, or when parental support is low, but this latter effect is limited to female adolescents.

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