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Understanding the interplay of individual and social–developmental factors in the progression of substance use and mental health from childhood to adulthood

  • Tiffany M. Jones (a1), Karl G. Hill (a1), Marina Epstein (a1), Jungeun Olivia Lee (a2), J. David Hawkins (a1) and Richard F. Catalano (a1)...

This study examines the interplay between individual and social–developmental factors in the development of positive functioning, substance use problems, and mental health problems. This interplay is nested within positive and negative developmental cascades that span childhood, adolescence, the transition to adulthood, and adulthood. Data are drawn from the Seattle Social Development Project, a gender-balanced, ethnically diverse community sample of 808 participants interviewed 12 times from ages 10 to 33. Path modeling showed short- and long-term cascading effects of positive social environments, family history of depression, and substance-using social environments throughout development. Positive family social environments set a template for future partner social environment interaction and had positive influences on proximal individual functioning, both in the next developmental period and long term. Family history of depression adversely affected mental health functioning throughout adulthood. Family substance use began a cascade of substance-specific social environments across development, which was the pathway through which increasing severity of substance use problems flowed. The model also indicated that adolescent, but not adult, individual functioning influenced selection into positive social environments, and significant cross-domain effects were found in which substance-using social environments affected subsequent mental health.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tiffany M. Jones, Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington, 9725 3rd Avenue NE, Suite 401, Seattle, WA 98115; E-mail:
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