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Intergenerational Consequences of Adolescent Substance Use: Patterns of Homotypic and Heterotypic Continuity

NCJ Number
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors Volume: 31 Issue: 2 Dated: 2017 Pages: 200-211
E. L. Nadel; T. P. Thornberry
Date Published
12 pages
In order to determine whether substance use runs in families, this study examined both homotypic continuity in substance usethe impact of a parent's adolescent substance use on their child's adolescent substance useand heterotypic continuitythe impact of a parent's adolescent substance use on their child's involvement in other adolescent problem behaviors.
The analysis was based on data from the Rochester Youth Development Study (Thornberry, Lizotte, Krohn, Smith, & Porter, 2003) and its intergenerational component, the Rochester Intergenerational Study (Thornberry, 2009). The initial study began with a representative sample of 7th and 8th grade students followed until Age 31, and the intergenerational study is currently following their oldest biological child from childhood through adolescence. The final sample size in the current analysis consisted of 341 parent-child dyads. The study found that for fathers, their adolescent substance use predicted both homotypic and heterotypic outcomes of their child. For mothers, however, there was no evidence of intergenerational continuity for either homotypic or heterotypic outcomes. In contrast, when the parent's adult substance use was examined, the opposite pattern emerged. The mother's adult substance use was a more consistent predictor of child behavioral outcomes, but there was little evidence that the father's adult behavior mattered. Thus, it appears that the answer to the question of whether or not substance use runs in families is more nuanced than typically thought. Based on these results, continuity depends both on the sex of the parent and when in the parent's life-course substance use occurs. (Publisher abstract modified)