Which matters most? Demographic, neuropsychological, personality, and situational factors in long-term marijuana and alcohol trajectories for justice-involved male youth

Sarah W.Feldstein Ewing, Francesca M. Filbey, Thomas A. Loughran, Laurie Chassin, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Justice-involved youth have high rates of alcohol and marijuana use. However, little is known about what may drive these rates over time. Using a large-scale (N = 1,056; 41.4% African American, 33.5% Hispanic) longitudinal study with strong retention (M retention = 90% over Years 1-7), we utilized random-effects regression to determine the comparative contribution of four sets of factors in justice-involved males' patterns of marijuana and heavy alcohol use (number of times drunk) over 7 years of follow-up: demographic, personality, situational, and neuropsychological factors. Across both marijuana and heavy alcohol use models, three factors were particularly strong contributors to lower rates of substance use: (a) Hispanic ethnicity, (b) less exposure (street) time, and (c) better impulse control. Similarly, two factors were strong contributors to increased rates of marijuana and heavy alcohol use: (a) delinquent peers and (b) family member arrest. Together, these findings indicate the relative superiority of these independent variables over other categories (i.e., neuropsychological factors) in predicting high-risk youths' long-term (7-year) rates of substance use. These findings also suggest the importance of evaluating the connection of these areas for high-risk, adjudicated youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-612
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • alcohol
  • juvenile justice
  • marijuana
  • trajectories

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