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Identifying Sensitive Periods When Changes in Parenting and Peer Factors Are Associated With Changes in Adolescent Alcohol and Marijuana Use

NCJ Number
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Dated: 2020
Seth J. Prins; Sandhya Kajeepeta; Robin Pearce; Jordan Beardslee; Dustin A Pardini; Magdalena Cerda
Date Published
9 pages
This study used a within-person change approach to examine whether changes in parenting and peer factors were associated with changes in adolescent marijuana and alcohol use and whether there are sensitive periods when changes in parenting and peer factors are more strongly associated with changes in adolescent marijuana and alcohol use.
There are well-established associations between parental/peer relationships and adolescent substance use, but few longitudinal studies have examined whether adolescents change their substance use in response to changes in their parents’ behavior or peer networks. In addressing this issue, the current study analyzed longitudinal data collected annually on 503 boys, ages 13–19, recruited from Pittsburgh public schools. Questionnaires regarding parental supervision, negative parenting practices, parental stress, physical punishment, peer delinquency, and peer drug use were administered to adolescents and their caretakers. Alcohol and marijuana use were assessed by a substance-use scale adapted from the National Youth Survey. The study found that reductions in parental supervision and increases in peer drug use and peer delinquency were associated with increases in marijuana use frequency, alcohol use frequency, and alcohol consumption quantity. Increases in parental stress were associated with increases in marijuana use and alcohol use frequency. The magnitudes of these relationships were strongest at ages 14–15 and systematically decreased across adolescence. These associations were not due to unmeasured stable confounders or measured time-varying confounders. The overall conclusion is that reducing or mitigating changes in parenting and peer risk factors in early adolescence may be particularly important for preventing substance-use problems as adolescents transition into young adulthood. 77 references (publisher abstract modified)