Evaluation of underlying mechanisms in the link between childhood ADHD symptoms and risk for early initiation of substance use.
Although there has been support for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a risk for early substance use, this link is not fully established or understood. Furthermore, the potential mechanisms explaining these associations are unclear. The current study examined peer rejection, school bonding, and internalizing problems as potential mediators of the association between childhood ADHD symptoms and risk for early initiation of substance use. The sample included a control group of 126 students with problematic aggression (79% African American, 66% male) from an intervention study following children from fourth to ninth grade. Results suggested that ADHD symptoms follow a path to early initiation of tobacco use through the combined effects of peer rejection and internalizing problems as well as through internalizing problems alone. ADHD symptoms were also associated with the cubic slope of marijuana use initiation, such that increased ADHD symptoms were associated with a strong cubic trend (e.g., a more rapid acceleration of risk for initiation). ADHD symptoms were not associated with risk for early initiation of alcohol use. Identification of important vulnerability factors in children with ADHD symptoms highlight the need for primary prevention and psychological interventions that target these factors and decrease the likelihood of early tobacco and marijuana use initiation.
Vitulano, ML; Fite, PJ; Hopko, DR; Lochman, J; Wells, K; Asif, I
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