Research & Resources

What, When, and Why: Psychosocial Predictors of Substance Use

This study evaluated the association of factors including social influence (e.g., peer substance use), cognitive features (e.g., alcohol expectancies), and personality and emotional characteristics (e.g., impulsivity and typical responses to stress) in substance use throughout adolescence and emerging adulthood (ages 13–25; N = 798). Interactions between age cohort, change in age, and psychosocial predictors of substance use revealed differing associations over the developmental window for alcohol and cannabis use. For example, positive alcohol expectancies and sensation-seeking were most strongly associated with greater drinking after age 18, whereas sensation-seeking was associated with increased cannabis use as early as age 15. Results highlight developmentally important factors that contribute to substance use in adolescence and young adulthood. 

This paper, “Psychosocial predictors of substance use in adolescents and young adults: Longitudinal risk and protective factors,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.