Modeling the association between sexual maturation, transmissible risk, and peer relationships during childhood and adolescence on development of substance use disorder in young adulthood

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BackgroundThis prospective study investigated pubertal timing and transmissible risk in relation to affiliation with deviant peers on the development of substance use disorder (SUD).MethodParticipants were boys (N = 500) ascertained through proband fathers with (N = 250), and without (N = 250) DSM-III-R lifetime diagnosis of SUD who were prospectively tracked from age 10–12 to 22. Transmissible liability index (TLI), Tanner stage, peer delinquency, and substance use were measured at ages 10–12 and 16. SUD diagnosis during early adulthood was determined.ResultsStructural equation modeling revealed two pathways in which transmissible risk and sexual maturation influenced development of SUD. In the first pathway, transmissible risk was correlated with and prospectively predicted affiliation with deviant peers and substance use presaging SUD. In the second pathway, advanced sexual maturation positively predicted affiliation with deviant peers and substance use, which in turn predicted SUD. However, transmissible risk was not associated with pubertal development.ConclusionThese findings indicate that advanced sexual maturation and transmissible risk constitute unrelated facets of SUD liability; however, both factors bias development toward SUD via affiliation with deviant peers.Scientific SignificanceYouth with advanced sexual maturation and/or transmissible risk for SUD are at higher risk for developing SUD. Additional research is needed to determine if addressing these risk factors will contribute to advancements in SUD prevention. (Am J Addict 2013;22:474–480)

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