Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

Investigating the long-term influence of adolescent delinquency on drug use initiation

TitleInvestigating the long-term influence of adolescent delinquency on drug use initiation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsDoherty, EE, Green, KM, Ensminger, ME
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Date PublishedJan 11
ISBN Number0376-8716; 0376-8716
Accession Number17980514
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, African Americans/statistics & numerical data, Age of Onset, Catchment Area (Health), Cocaine-Related Disorders/ethnology, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Illinois/epidemiology, Juvenile Delinquency/ethnology/psychology/statistics & numerical data, Male, Marijuana Abuse/ethnology, Substance-Related Disorders/ethnology, Time Factors

Prior research has found a positive relationship between delinquency and early onset of drug use. However, little is known about the influence of delinquency on drug initiation through mid-adulthood. This paper investigates the long-term relationship between serious adolescent delinquency and the onset of marijuana and cocaine use among an epidemiologically defined community sample of African American males and females followed from first grade through age 42. Using propensity score methods we match individuals on several etiological variables that may explain both delinquency and drug use in an attempt to examine the extent to which there may be a causal link between delinquency and drug use initiation. Through a comparison of survival curves on the unmatched and matched samples of serious delinquents and non-serious delinquents, we find that serious adolescent delinquency has at least some causal influence on drug use initiation that extends into mid-life. We discuss how these results can inform future research and delinquency and drug prevention and intervention initiatives.