Family Structure and Adolescent Substance Use: An International Perspective


Adolescent substance use, family structure, single parents, stepparents


Numerous studies indicate that family structure is a key correlate of adolescent substance use. Yet there are some important limitations to this research. Studies have been conducted mainly in the United States, with relatively few studies that have compared family structure and youth substance use across nations. There is also a lack of recognition of the complexity of family types prevalent in contemporary global society. Moreover, there remains a need to consider personal, interpersonal, and macro-level characteristics that may help account for the association between family structure and youth substance use. Objective: This study uses data from 37 countries to examine several models that purport to explain the association between family structure and substance use. Methods: The data are from the 2005–2006 WHO-sponsored Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) (n = 193,202). Multilevel models, including linear, probit, and structural equation models (SEMs), were used to test several hypotheses. Results: The results suggest that time spent with friends largely accounted for the association between specific types of family structures and frequency of alcohol use and getting drunk, but that cannabis use was negatively associated with living with both biological parents irrespective of other factors.

Original Publication Citation

Hoffmann, John P. 2017. “Family Structure and Adolescent Substance Use: An International Perspective.” Substance Use & Misuse 52(13): 1667-1683.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Substance Use & Misuse




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor