Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 99–114 | Cite as

The effects of family stressors on substance use initiation in adolescence

Article

Abstract

Smoking and drinking are critical problems in adolescence that have long-term adverse impacts on health and socio-economic factors. We examine the extent to which family stresses influence the timing of initiation of smoking and drinking. Using national panel data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) we capitalize on the survey design and use school-level fixed effects that control for the local environments, including prices of cigarettes and alcohol. In addition, we narrow our control group to classmates who will experience a similar stressor in the future. We find that a composite measure of family stressors when young increases the likelihood of initiating tobacco and alcohol use, with much of the impact attributable to parental divorce. In our baseline estimates, the composite stress measure is associated with a 30% increase in the likelihood of smoking and a 20% increase in drinking. When we control for multiple sources of confounding, the impact shrinks and remains significant for smoking but not for drinking. We conclude that studies which do not control for confounding are likely to significantly overestimate the impact of family stress on substance use. Our approach helps to move the literature forward by separating causal results from spurious associations.

Keywords

Substance use Family stress Confounding 

JEL Classification

I12 J12 D10 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research Common Fund through the following grants: RL1-AA017542, UL1-DE019586 and the PL1-DA024859.

References

  1. Anda, R. F., Croft, J. B., Felitti, V. J., Nordenberg, D., Giles, W. H., Williamson, D. F., et al. (1999). Adverse childhood experiences and smoking during adolescence and adulthood. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282(17), 1652–1658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Clark, D. B., Lesnick, L., & Hegdedus, A. M. (1997). Traumas and other adverse life events in adolescents with alcohol abuse and dependence. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(12), 1744–1751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dahl, R. E. (2004). Adolescent brain development: A period of vulnerabilities and opportunities. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. DeCicca, P., Kenkel, D., & Mathios, A. (2000). Racial difference in the determinants of smoking onset. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 21, 311–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. DeCicca, P., Kenkel, D., & Mathios, A. (2002). Putting out the fires: Will higher cigarette taxes reduce the onset of youth smoking? Journal of Political Economy, 110(1), 144–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dube, S., Felitti, V., Dong, M., Chapman, D., Giles, W., & Anda, R. (2003). Childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction and the risk of illicit drug use: The adverse childhood experiences study. Pediatrics, 111(3), 564–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fletcher, J. M. (2009). Peer influences on alcohol consumption. Working Paper, Yale University.Google Scholar
  8. Fletcher, J. M., & Sindelar, J. L. (2010). The effects of family stressors on substance use initiation in adolescence. Available: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1726141.
  9. Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F. X., Zhao, L., Russell, D. W., & Reis-Bergan, M. (1999). The effect of peers’ alcohol consumption on parental influence: A cognitive mediational model. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 13, 32–44.Google Scholar
  10. Giovino, G. A. (2007). The tobacco epidemic in the United States. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(6S), S318–S326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kassel, J. D., Stroud, L. R., & Paronis, C. A. (2003). Smoking, stress, and negative affect: Correlation, causation and context across stages of smoking. Psychological Bulletin, 129(2), 270–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Khantzian, E. J. (1997). The self-medication hypothesis of substance use disorders: A reconsideration and recent applications. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 4, 231–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Koval, J. J., & Pederson, L. J. (1999). Stress-coping and other psychosocial risk factors: A model for smoking in grade 6 students. Addictive Behaviors, 24, 207–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Leventhal, H., & Cleary, P. D. (1980). The smoking problem: A review of the research and theory in behavioral risk modification. Psychological Bulletin, 88, 370–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lloyd, D., & Turner, J. (2008). Cumulative lifetime adversities and alcohol dependence in adolescence and youth adulthood. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 93, 217–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Masten, A. S. (2004). Regulatory processes, risk, and resilience in adolescent development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 310–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McGue, M., Elkins, I., & Iacono, W. G. (2000). Genetic and environmental influences on adolescent substance use and abuse. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 96, 671–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Osofsky, J. D. (1999). The impact of violence on children. Future Child, 9, 33–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Patton, G. C., Carlin, J. B., Coffey, C., Wolfe, R., Hibbert, M., & Bowes, G. (1998). The course of early smoking: A population-based cohort study. Addiction, 93, 1251–1260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rose, R. J. (1998). A developmental behavioral-genetic perspective on alcoholism risk. Alcohol Health & Research World, 22, 131–143.Google Scholar
  21. Span, S. A., & Earleywine, M. (1999). Cognitive functioning moderates the relation between hyperactivity and drinking habits. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 23, 224–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Spielberger, C. D. (1986). Psychological determinants of smoking behavior. In R. D. Tollison (Ed.), Smoking and society: Toward a more balanced assessment (pp. 89–134). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  23. Surgeon General Report. (1994). Preventing tobacco use among young people. A report of the Surgeon General, 1994. Atlanta: US Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health, (US Government Printing Office Publication No S/N 017-001-00491-0).Google Scholar
  24. Surgeon General Report. (2004). The health consequences of smoking: A report of the surgeon general. USDHHS, Office the Surgeon General. www.surgeongeneral.gov.
  25. Swadi, H. (1999). Individual risk factors for adolescent substance use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 55, 209–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wills, T. A., & Shiffman, S. (1985). Coping and substance use: A conceptual framework. In S. Shiffman & T. A. Wills (Eds.), Coping and substance use (pp. 3–24). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.NBERCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations