Parental substance use disorder, mediating variables and adolescent drug use: a non-recursive model


modeling, parental psychoactive substance use disorder, PSUD, drug use, adolescents


Aims. To develop and test a non‐recursive model that examines the effects of parental psychoactive substance use disorder (PSUD) on the reciprocal relationships among stressful life events, family attachment, peer drug use and adolescent drug use. Design. A 3‐year prospective cohort study followed adolescents from three types of families defined by a parental diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder. Setting. A large metropolitan area in the upper Midwestern United States. Participants. Seven hundred and seventy‐seven 10‐16‐year‐old adolescents from three groups of families: 214 who resided in families in which a parent was diagnosed with PSUD, 181 who resided in families in which a parent was diagnosed with an affective disorder (but no co‐morbid PSUD), and 382 who resided in families in which both parents were free of any diagnosable disorder. Measurements. Psychiatric disorder was defined by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM‐III‐R (SCID). Two follow‐up interviews of adolescent respondents were used to measure stressful life events via the Junior High Life Experiences Survey, family attachment via FACES‐III and a child‐parent strain index, peer drug use, and two self‐reported drug use scales designed to measure past‐year alcohol use and illicit drug use (e.g. marijuana, cocaine, inhalants). Findings. Nested structural equation models with latent variables revealed that adolescents from PSUD families were at heightened risk of stressful life events, peer drug use, attenuated family attachments and drug use during the first follow‐up period. In turn, peer drug use was strongly associated with drug use during the second follow‐up period. However, drug use during the first follow‐up also led to greater peer drug use and attenuated family attachment during the second follow‐up period. The findings support a non‐recursive model describing relations among adolescent drug use, peer drug use and family attachment. Conclusions. Parental psychoactive substance use disorder puts adolescents at significant risk of becoming embedded in a cycle of drug use, associations with drug using peers, and poor family relations.

Original Publication Citation

Hoffmann, John P., and S. Susan Su. 1998. “Parental Substance Use Disorder, Mediating Variables, and Adolescent Drug Use: A Nonrecursive Model.” Addiction 93(9): 1353-1366.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor