Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among adolescents in the United States, and adolescent drinking is associated with various health risk behaviors. Given the prevalence and consequences of adolescent drinking, understanding family factors that contribute to adolescent drinking is an important area for research. This study used three waves of data to evaluate a family stress model in which economic hardship is indirectly related to adolescent problem drinking through maternal psychological distress, parenting behaviors, and adolescent externalizing behaviors. Respondents included 300 mothers (71 % Black, 29 % White) and adolescents (51 % male) who were interviewed when adolescents were ages 10, 14, and 16. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized model and findings supported our hypothesized model. Economic hardship was positively related to maternal psychological distress. Maternal psychological distress was negatively associated with supportive parenting, which in turn was negatively associated with externalizing problems. Externalizing problems were positively associated with problem drinking. In support of our hypothesis regarding indirect effects, economic hardship was indirectly related to problem drinking through maternal psychological distress, parenting behaviors, and adolescent externalizing problems. The findings from this study highlight the role of family processes in adolescent problem drinking.
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This study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (DA09275 PI: M Cornelius) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA022473; AA007453; AA08284 PI: M Cornelius). We extend special thanks to Young Shim Jhon and Lidush Goldschmidt for providing invaluable assistance with data management and helpful suggestions during the preparation of this article.
CH conceived of the study, designed the study, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. MC collected the original data for this cohort and provided input on the manuscript’s study design and editing. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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Hardaway, C.R., Cornelius, M.D. Economic Hardship and Adolescent Problem Drinking: Family Processes as Mediating Influences. J Youth Adolescence 43, 1191–1202 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-013-0063-x
- Family stress model
- Economic hardship
- Psychological distress
- Externalizing problems
- Alcohol use
- Problem drinking