A comparison of drug use and adjustment in urban adolescent children of substance abusers

Janet Gross, Mary E. McCaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Children of alcoholics and other drug abusers are at elevated risk for substance abuse and other related psychosocial problems. Adolescents with a positive family history for drug abuse or alcoholism were compared to a similar group of low-SES, urban youth who were at risk for school failure but did not report any family history of substance abuse. A survey of depression, self-esteem, behavioral competence and dysfunction, and drug/alcohol use found that, overall, adolescents with a positive family history (FHP) for substance abuse exhibited more use of illicit drugs compared to those with a negative family history (FHN). There were also a greater number of FHP cases which fell into the clinical range on the psychosocial measures of behavioral dysfunction and depression compared to FHN youth. There were differential effects for boys versus girls, with FHP girls exhibiting a greater number of problem cases. Implications for substance abuse prevention with urban youth are discussed. [Translations are provided in the International Abstracts section of this issue.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-511
Number of pages17
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue numberS4
StatePublished - 1990


  • Adolescence
  • Children of substance abusers
  • Familial alcoholism
  • High-risk youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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