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Delinquency, aggression, and attention-related problem behaviors differentially predict adolescent substance use in individuals diagnosed with ADHD

Authors

  • Seth C. Harty PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  • Stavroula Galanopoulos BA,

    1. Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
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  • Jeffrey H. Newcorn MD,

    1. Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
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  • Jeffrey M. Halperin PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
    2. Department of Psychology, Queens College of the City University of New York, Flushing, New York
    • Address correspondence to Dr. Halperin, Department of Psychology, Queens College, CUNY, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, NY 11367. E-mail: jeffrey.halperin@qc.cuny.edu.

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Abstract

Objective

To measure the degree to which childhood and adolescent ratings of aggression, attention, and delinquency are related to adolescent substance use outcomes in youth diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Background

Childhood externalizing disorders have been shown to predict adolescent maladaptive substance use, but few studies have examined the differential predictive utility of two distinct dimensions of externalizing behavior: aggression and delinquency.

Methods

Ninety-seven clinically referred children with ADHD initially took part in this research protocol when they were on average 9.05 years of age, and were seen again on average 9.30 years later. Participants' parents were administered the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at baseline and follow-up, and youth completed the Youth Self Report (YSR) in adolescence. At follow-up, substance use severity and diagnosis were assessed using semi-structured psychiatric interviews administered separately to parents and adolescents. Linear and binary logistic regressions were used to determine the association of CBCL- and YSR-rated attention problems, aggression, and delinquency to adolescent substance use.

Results

Childhood and adolescent delinquency, but not aggression, as rated by parents and youths, predicted adolescent substance use disorders and substance use severity (all p < .05). After accounting for the associations of delinquency and aggression with adolescent substance use, ratings of attention problems in childhood and adolescence were negatively associated with substance use outcome.

Conclusions

Children with ADHD who exhibit high rates of delinquency are at risk for later substance use and may require targeted prevention, intervention, and follow-up services. (Am J Addict 2013;22:543–550)

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