more likely to develop substance abuse problems (Mayes and Suchman, 2006; Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992). Considerable evidence supports that a genetic vulnerability to abuse may be conferred at birth, and that this vulnerability may be most significant in relation to the transition from drug use to dependence later in life (Mayes and Suchman, 2006).
During childhood, risk for substance abuse is higher for those who have a difficult temperament, poor self-regulatory skills, are sensation seeking, are impulsive, and do not tend to avoid harm. Children who have early persistent behavior problems are also more likely to develop a substance use problem (Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992). Furthermore, substance abuse is also often comorbid with anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (Mayes and Suchman, 2006; Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992; Sher, Grekin, and Williams, 2005). Evidence suggests that parents who form warm, nonconflictual relationships with their children, provide adequate monitoring and supervision, and do not provide models of drug use help protect their children from developing substance use disorders.
During middle childhood and into adolescence, peers play an increasingly important role in children’s psychological functioning. Children who associate with deviant or drug-using peers or who are rejected by peers are more likely to develop substance use problems (Mayes and Suchman, 2006; Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992; Sher, Grekin, and Williams, 2005). Peers create norms and opportunities for substance use (Mayes and Suchman, 2006; Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992; Sher, Grekin, and Williams, 2005) and influence attitudes toward substance use. Children and adolescents who have a low commitment to school (Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992) or experience school failure are more likely to abuse substances. And healthy peer groups and school engagement appear to be protective.
Children and adolescents with more access and availability to alcohol and drugs are more likely to use them (Mayes and Suchman, 2006; Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller, 1992). There is also evidence that child and adolescent substance use is affected by societal norms about use. Norms can be conveyed by laws, perception (or misperception) of peer use, enforcement, taxation, and/or advertising (e.g., alcohol).
Adolescent use of coping strategies involving behavioral disengagement, tendency toward negative emotionality, conduct disorder, and antisocial behavior increase the risk for substance abuse. For both children and adolescents, early drug use predicts later drug use.
In young adulthood, different risk factors appear to represent different pathways to substance abuse. There is consistent evidence of elevated substance abuse, particularly of alcohol, among those attending college, the same group that had lower use in adolescence (Brown, Wang, and