Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 263–282 | Cite as

Linking Substance Use and Problem Behavior Across Three Generations

  • Jennifer A. BaileyEmail author
  • Karl G. Hill
  • Sabrina Oesterle
  • J. David Hawkins

This study examined patterns of between-generation continuity in substance use from generation 1 (G1) parents to generation 2 (G2) adolescents and from G2 adult substance use and G1 substance use to generation 3 (G3) problem behavior in childhood. Structural equation modeling of prospective, longitudinal data from 808 participants, their parents, and their children showed low levels of G1 to G2 cross-generational continuity in the general tendency to use drugs. This effect was fully mediated by G2 early adolescent behavior problems. Drug-specific residual effects were observed across generations for cigarette smoking. Once established in adolescence, substance use in G2 showed stability over time. G2 substance use at age 27 significantly predicted G3 problem behavior. G1 substance use also was related to G3 problem behavior indirectly. These findings highlight the importance of interrupting intergenerational cycles of substance use and problem behavior.


substance use problem behavior intergenerational 



This research was supported by research grants # 1RO1DA12138 and #R01DA09679 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Points of view are those of the authors and are not the official positions of the funding agency. Portions of the findings reported here were presented at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research, Quebec, Canada. Correspondence concerning this article and requests for reprints should be addressed to Jennifer Bailey, Social Development Research Group, 9725 3rd Avenue NE, Suite 401, Seattle, WA 98115 (fax) 206-543-4507 or We gratefully acknowledge the SDRG data collection team, as well as Tanya Williams for her help in editing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer A. Bailey
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Karl G. Hill
    • 1
  • Sabrina Oesterle
    • 1
  • J. David Hawkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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