Substance use initiation among adolescent children of alcoholics: Testing protective factors

Andrea M. Hussong, Laurie Chassin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objective: past research suggests that adolescent children of alcoholics (COAs) are at heightened risk for alcohol and drug use. However, not all COAs use substances during adolescence. The current study investigated whether five factors (self-awareness, perceived control, family organization, behavioral coping and cognitive coping) buffer COA risk for substance use initiation during adolescence. Method: A community sample of 454 COA and matched control families was recruited to participate in a 3-year longitudinal study, involving annual computer-assisted interviews with adolescents and their parents. Subjects were selected for the current study if they had complete data at all three assessment periods and showed either abstinence throughout the study or substance use initiation after the first wave of assessment. A subsample of 267 (127 COAs. 147 controls; 147 male) of the original participants was included in the current analyses. Results. Logistic regression analyses found some support for the buffering hypothesis in that CIDAs with greater perceived control or extreme (very low or high) levels of cognitive coping were less likely to initiate substance use than their peers. Main effects suggested that adolescents reporting high family organization and either very low or very high levels of behavioral coping were less likely to initiate substance use over the course of the study. Conclusions: These findings suggest that highly organized families and behavioral coping efforts may deter substance use initiation. Moreover, perceived control over one's environment and cognitive coping may buffer adolescents from the risk associated with parent alcoholism for substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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