Predictors of problematic adult alcohol, cannabis, and other substance use: A longitudinal study of two samples

Jennifer E. Lansford, Natalie Goulter, Jennifer Godwin, Robert J. McMahon, Kenneth A. Dodge, Max Crowley, Gregory S. Pettit, John E. Bates, John E. Lochman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined whether a key set of adolescent and early adulthood risk factors predicts problematic alcohol, cannabis, and other substance use in established adulthood. Two independent samples from the Child Development Project (CDP; n = 585; 48% girls; 81% White, 17% Black, 2% other race/ethnicity) and Fast Track (FT; n = 463; 45% girls; 52% White, 43% Black, 5% other race/ethnicity) were recruited in childhood and followed through age 34 (CDP) or 32 (FT). Predictors of substance use were assessed in adolescence based on adolescent and parent reports and in early adulthood based on adult self-reports. Adults reported their own problematic substance use in established adulthood. In both samples, more risk factors from adolescence and early adulthood predicted problematic alcohol use in established adulthood (compared to problematic cannabis use and other substance use). Externalizing behaviors and prior substance use in early adulthood were consistent predictors of problematic alcohol and cannabis misuse in established adulthood across samples; other predictors were specific to the sample and type of substance misuse. Prevention efforts might benefit from tailoring to address risk factors for specific substances, but prioritizing prevention of externalizing behaviors holds promise for preventing both alcohol and cannabis misuse in established adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2028-2043
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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