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01-10-2013 | Uitgave 7/2013

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 7/2013

Early Adolescent Growth in Depression and Conduct Problem Symptoms as Predictors of Later Substance Use Impairment

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 7/2013
Carolyn A. McCarty, Brian T. Wymbs, W. Alex Mason, Kevin M. King, Elizabeth McCauley, John Baer, Ann Vander Stoep


Most studies of adolescent substance use and psychological comorbidity have examined the contributions of conduct problems and depressive symptoms measured only at particular points-in-time. Yet, during adolescence, risk factors such as conduct problems and depression exist within a developmental context, and vary over time. Though internalizing and comorbid pathways to substance use have been theorized (Hussong et al. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 25:390-404, 2011), the degree to which developmental increases in depressive symptoms and conduct problems elevate risk for substance use impairment among adolescents, in either an additive or potentially a synergistic fashion, is unclear. Using a school-based sample of 521 adolescents, we tested additive and synergistic influences of changes in depressive symptoms and conduct problems from 6th to 9th grade using parallel process growth curve modeling with latent interactions in the prediction of late adolescent (12th grade) substance use impairment, while examining gender as a moderator. We found that the interaction between growth in depression and conduct disorder symptoms uniquely predicted later substance use problems, in addition to main effects of each, across boys and girls. Results indicated that adolescents whose parents reported increases in both depression and conduct disorder symptoms from 6th to 9th grade reported the most substance use-related impairment in 12th grade. The current study demonstrates that patterns of depression and conduct problems (e.g., growth vs. decreasing) are likely more important than the static levels at any particular point-in-time in relation to substance use risk.

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