Self-Regulation and Adolescent Drug Use: Translating Developmental Science and Neuroscience into Prevention Practice

  • Thomas J. DishionEmail author
  • Joshua C. Felver-Gant
  • Yalchin Abdullaev
  • Michael I. Posner


This chapter addresses the role of self-regulation in the development of adolescent-onset drug use. Specifically, we focus on the interface between peer influences, parenting, self-regulation, and drug use. Recent longitudinal analyses suggest that peer clustering into groups supportive of drug use is central to the etiology of adolescent onset and progression to young adult dependence. Longitudinal research also confirms that individual differences in adolescent self-regulation uniquely reduce progressions in terms of adolescent use and dependence, and serve as a protective factor for peer influences. We also explore the neurocognitive underpinnings of adolescent self-regulation by observing brain activation patterns associated with tasks with known properties in the attention network. We report an imaging study of adolescent marijuana users that revealed not only self-regulation deficits in users, but also specific neurocognitive activation patterns unique to early-onset persistent drug use. These analyses revealed that more effort (and activation) was required in tasks assessing executive control of attention, suggesting less developed attention systems associated with self-regulation among known users compared with controls. We propose that future prevention efforts focus on interventions that reduce peer clustering into groups that support early drug use, and interventions that promote enhancement of self-regulation, in particular, building on recent progress in neurocognitive mindfulness-based intervention strategies.


Mindfulness Training Effortful Control Mindfulness Intervention Marijuana User Executive Attention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Dishion
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joshua C. Felver-Gant
  • Yalchin Abdullaev
  • Michael I. Posner
  1. 1.Child and Family CenterUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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