The current study examined the distal, proximal, and time-varying effects of parents' alcohol-related consequences on adolescents' substance use. Previous studies show that having a parent with a lifetime diagnosis of alcoholism is a clear risk factor for adolescents' own substance use. Less clear is whether the timing of a parent's alcohol-related consequences differentially predicts the adolescent's own substance involvement. Using a multilevel modeling approach, we tested whether adolescents showed elevated rates of alcohol, heavy alcohol, marijuana and other illegal drug use (a) at the same time that parents showed alcohol-related consequences (time-varying effects), (b) if parents showed greater alcohol-related consequences during the child's adolescence (proximal effects), and (c) if parents had a lifetime diagnosis of alcoholism that predated the child's adolescence (distal effects). We tested these effects in a high-risk sample of 451 adolescents assessed over three waves beginning at ages 11-15 from 1988 to 1991 (53 % male, 71 % non-Hispanic Caucasian, 54 % children of alcoholic parents and 46 % matched controls). Strong and consistent distal effects of parent alcoholism on adolescent's substance use were found, though no additional risk was associated with proximal effects. Limited time-varying effects were also found. The importance of differentiating the timing effects of parent alcoholism in identifying underlying mechanisms of risk for adolescent substance use is discussed.
- Intergenerational transmission
- Parent alcoholism
- Substance use
- Time-varying effects
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health