, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 195-213

Ethnic and gender differences in risk for early adolescent substance use

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This study examinedinterpersonal andintrapersonal risk for substance use in a sample of Caucasian and Hispanic early adolescents. A total of 1170 sixth and seventh graders, equally divided by gender, participated. Interpersonal risk was assessed by susceptibility to peer pressure, parental monitoring, peer substance use, parent-child involvement, and school adjustment. Intrapersonal risk was measured via self-efficacy, impulsivity, aggression, depression, and academic achievement. As expected, mean level of use did not differ between ethnic groups. Regression analyses indicated susceptibility to peer pressure and peer alcohol use were the best predictors of individual substance use. These findings were consistent across gender and ethnicity. In all groups, interpersonal variables accounted for more variance in predicting risk (49% for Hispanic males) than intrapersonal variables (0% for Hispanic females). Findings are discussed (1) in terms of examining mean levels vs. the underlying pattern predicting substance use, and (2) regarding implications for prevention efforts in early adolescence.

This project was supported in part by BRSG S07RR07002 awarded by the Biomedical Research Support Grant Program, Division of Research Resources, National Institutes of Health, to the first author.
Received Ph.D. from Ohio State University in clinical child psychology. Research interests include parent-adolescent relations, developmental psychopathology, and affective expression in interactions.