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Precursors of adolescent substance use from early childhood and early adolescence: Testing a developmental cascade model

  • Stephanie L. Sitnick (a1), Daniel S. Shaw (a1) and Luke W. Hyde (a1) (a2)

This study examined developmentally salient risk and protective factors of adolescent substance use assessed during early childhood and early adolescence using a sample of 310 low-income boys. Child problem behavior and proximal family risk and protective factors (i.e., parenting and maternal depression) during early childhood, as well as child and family factors and peer deviant behavior during adolescence, were explored as potential precursors to later substance use during adolescence using structural equation modeling. Results revealed that early childhood risk and protective factors (i.e., child externalizing problems, mothers' depressive symptomatology, and nurturant parenting) were indirectly related to substance use at the age of 17 via risk and protective factors during early and middle adolescence (i.e., parental knowledge and externalizing problems). The implications of these findings for early prevention and intervention are discussed.

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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Stephanie S. Sitnick, 210 South Bouquet Street, 4109 Sennott Square, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; E-mail:
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