U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Substance Use Patterns among Early Adolescents in an Urban Community: Associations with Risk and Promotive Factors

NCJ Number
Journal of Early Adolescence Dated: April 2024 Pages: 1-29
Courtney B. Dunn; Albert D. Farrell
Date Published
April 2024
29 pages

This paper reports on a research study that examined eighth-grade students’ subgroups and differences in individual, peer, caregiver, and community risk and promotive factors for substance use; it reports on the research sample, methodology, and findings, and suggests implications for future research.


Polysubstance use is related to elevated risk for adverse outcomes but remains understudied among early adolescents. This study focused on a cross-sectional (N = 1568) primarily Black (79%) sample of eighth grade students living in urban communities (Mean age = 13.8, SD = .68) to identify subgroups based on adolescents’ reports of lifetime and past 30-day substance use. It also examined subgroup differences in individual, peer, caregiver, and community risk and promotive factors. Latent class analysis identified four subgroups: Non-use (73.7) percent, Alcohol Use (5.8 percent), Lifetime Use (13.2 percent), and Polysubstance Use (7.2 percent). There were no sex differences in subgroup membership when accounting for differential item functioning. The polysubstance use subgroup reported the highest levels of risk (e.g., delinquency) and lowest levels of promotive factors (e.g., caregiver knowledge). Findings inform the authors’ understanding of polysubstance use patterns during early adolescence within a primarily Black urban sample and suggest implications for future research. (Published Abstract Provided)