Dr Devin Banks
Final Abstract for URS Program
Externalizing Behavior Predicts Differential Patterns of Substance Use among Adolescents by Race
Early substance use is associated with negative developmental outcomes and chronic disease. Adolescent externalizing behavior (e.g., rule-breaking, lying, aggression) is a consistent predictor of adolescent substance use. However, the association between externalizing behavior and different substances (e.g., alcohol, cannabis, nicotine) is unclear. It is important to clarify these relationships by race as previous research has demonstrated that substance use risk factors for Black youth differ from those for White youth, with whom much research has been conducted.
Non-Hispanic Black (n=16) and White (n = 20) adolescents ages 14-18 who reported past 30-day substance use were recruited from schools and the local community. Participants were initially given a baseline survey that measured externalizing behavior, followed by daily surveys delivered to their cellphones for 14 consecutive days that measured daily use of alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine use.
Among all participants, externalizing behavior was negatively associated with alcohol use, but was not associated with cannabis or nicotine use. However, there was a significant interaction between race and externalizing behavior for cannabis and nicotine use such that externalizing behavior predicted cannabis and nicotine use among White, but not Black adolescents.
Despite Black youth reporting similar rates of externalizing behavior use as White youth, it did not predict substance use among Black youth. Social and structural factors that disproportionately affect Black youth (e.g., high neighborhood violence and racial discrimination) may be more important risk factors for substance use among Black adolescents than individual factors. Further research is needed to improve culturally-relevant prevention among Black adolescents.