A Growth Curve Analysis of Stress and Adolescent Drug Use


stressful life events, drug use, adolescent, growth curves, stress buffers


The purpose of this paper is to describe and examine one pathway by which adolescent drug use increases during early and mid-adolescence. It draws upon recent research on adolescent stress, drug use, and family processes to describe an important stage of the life course. A chief principle underlying the proposed pathway is that the cumulative effect of stressful life experiences over time can lead to a steeper escalation of drug use in adolescence. Furthermore, based on previous stress research, we propose that this effect may be moderated by factors such as sex, income, family attachment, self-esteem, and mastery. Using 4 years of panel data from the Family Health Study (n = 651 adolescents ages 11-14 during Year 1), we estimate a hierarchical growth curve model that examines the time-varying effects of stressful life events and peer relations on drug use. The results indicate that experiencing a high number of life events over time is related to a significant “growth” of drug use, even after controlling for “growth” due to age or peer relations. In addition, this relationship is moderated by family attachment; high levels of attachment serve to diminish this growth significantly.

Original Publication Citation

Hoffmann, John P., Felicia G. Cerbone, and S. Susan Su. 2000. “A Growth Curve Analysis of Cumulative Stress and Adolescent Drug Use.” Substance Use & Misuse 35(5): 687-716.

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