Parental and family risk factors for substance use in inner-city African-American children and adolescents

  • Hector F. Myers
  • Michael D. Newcomb
  • Mark A. Richardson
  • Kerby T. Alvy


The purpose of this study was to develop and test a multidimensional model of parental and family influences on risk for substance use in inner-city African-American primary grade children and their adolescent siblings. The risk factors investigated were conceptually grouped into three broad domains of family influences and the respective indices computed: parental risk attributes, family risk attributes, and parenting styles. Parenting styles were captured as indicators of a latent construct, “poor parenting.” In study 1, we hypothesized that the parental and family risk variables would be mediated through parenting styles to predict intentions to use drugs, actual drug use, positive drug attitudes, and negative drug attitudes in a sample of 455 inner-city African-American families and their primary-grade children. In study 2, the substance use risk model was tested on a sample of 59 adolescent sibilings to determine whether the pattern of parental and family factors that contributed to early high-risk attitudes and behaviors in children would predict drug attitudes and behaviors in teen siblings. The results confirmed our expectations that parental and family risks were important predictors of childrens' negative drug attitudes and intentions to use drugs in the future and that positive parental and family characteristics would protect against future risk by enhancing negative drug attitudes. Also, substance use attitudes and behaviors in the teen siblings were predicted primarily by family risk characteristics. The family risk index also predicted frequency of use of hard drugs, but only when mediated through poor parenting. The implications of these results for future research are discussed.

Key words

substance use inner-city African-American children parental risk factors family risk factors 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hector F. Myers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael D. Newcomb
    • 3
  • Mark A. Richardson
    • 1
  • Kerby T. Alvy
    • 4
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos Angeles
  2. 2.Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & ScienceUSA
  3. 3.University of Southern CaliforniaUSA
  4. 4.Center for the Improvement of Child CaringUSA

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