Substance use and personal adjustment among disadvantaged teenagers: A six-month prospective study

Suniya S. Luthar, Gretta Cushing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Using a 2-wave longitudinal design with a 6-month interval, associations were examined between substance use and emotional/behavioral adjustment among 138 inner-city ninth-grade students. Substance use was operationalized in terms of self-reported severity of problems associated with use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Adjustment was measured based on various sources including ratings by the self, by peers, and by teachers, as well as school records. Cross-sectional data indicated that drug use showed associations in expected directions with all indices of adjustment with the exception of peer-rated sociability. Longitudinal analyses indicated that high levels of drug use early in the year were related to subsequent increases in behavioral and emotional maladjustment. Early maladjustment, across different domains, conversely, was minimally associated with escalations in drug use. Results are discussed in terms of mechanisms potentially underlying prospective associations, as well as implications for interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-372
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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