Disruption of Transitions in High-Risk Substance Use from Adolescence to Young Adulthood: School, Employment, and Romantic Relationship Factors

Gabriel J. Merrin, Megan E. Ames, Clea Sturgess, Bonnie J. Leadbeater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Few studies have examined social-contextual moderators of substance use transitions from adolescence to young adulthood. A better understanding of the extent to which school, employment, and romantic relationships can disrupt high-risk use patterns could inform strategies for substance use prevention and treatment. Objective: The current study examines the extent school, employment, and relationship factors can disrupt transition in high-risk substance use patterns from adolescence to young adulthood. Method: Data were collected biennially from 662 youth in six assessments across ten years (2003–2013). Using latent transition analysis (LTA) that examined transition is substance use classes, we examined school, employment, and relationship moderators of use transitions. Results: Few differences were found during adolescence with the most significant findings occurring in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Examining the transitions from adolescence to young adulthood (W4 to W6), we found evidence that school, employment, and relationship status disrupted problematic substance use patterns, such that, individuals that indicated entering school, working full-time, or getting married or entering a relationship were more likely to transition to a low-risk substance use class than remain in the high-risk class. Conclusions/Importance: Findings underscore the importance of school completion, obtaining stable career employment, and quality relationship to help reduce high-risk substance use patterns leading into young adulthood. Prevention and intervention efforts should consider the diverse needs of youth and be prepared to provide a wide range of services that include educational opportunities and career development if they want to reduce high-risk substance use patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1137
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Volume55
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020

Keywords

  • employment
  • latent transition analysis
  • romantic relationships
  • school
  • substance use classes

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