adolescent drug abuse, parental substance use disorder, family cohesion, self-esteem


A common observation in the research literature is that children of drug-dependent parents are at significantly heightened risk of adolescent drug use, abuse, and dependence. Recent research indicates that several psychological and interpersonal factors may affect the association between parents’ psychoactive substance use disorder (PSUD) and drug use risks among adolescents, yet studies have failed to examine explicitly whether these factors moderate the association between PSUD and adolescent substance abuse. This paper explores these potential relationships using longitudinal data from a study that has followed three cohorts of adolescents and their families over a 7-year period. The cohorts are defined by parental diagnoses of PSUD, affective disorders, or no diagnosable disorder. The results indicate that PSUD is positively associated with adolescent drug abuse, yet this association is attenuated by strong family cohesion. Affective disorders among parents are associated with a higher risk of alcohol, but not drug, abuse. The associations are stronger in the presence of lower stress and higher self-esteem. PSUD is also associated more strongly with offspring drug and alcohol abuse when levels of use are lower. Hence, some unobserved mechanism that may involve physiological sensitivities to drugs and alcohol appears to put children of parents with drug problems at particular risk of drug and alcohol abuse. Limitations of the data and analysis are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Hoffmann, John P., and Felicia G. Cerbone. 2002. “Parental Substance Use Disorder and the Risk of Adolescent Drug Abuse: An Event History Analysis.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 66(3): 255-264.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Drug and Alcohol Dependence




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor