Adolescent Polydrug Use and Violence in the United States


Dornbusch, S. M.; Lin, I. C.; Munroe, P. T.; & Bianchi, A. J. (2000). Adolescent Polydrug Use and Violence in the United States. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. vol. 11 (3-4) pp. 197-219


Prior research, mostly on adults, has shown that the causal link between the use of any specific drug and violence is weak. Using a longitudinal probability sample of adolescents in the United States, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examined the effects of the use of six types of substances (cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, cocaine, and other illicit drugs) on the longitudinal change in adolescent violence (N = 13,568). Among adolescents, the order of initiation into drug use was fairly fixed, with alcohol and cigarettes being the first substances used, followed by marijuana. Nested regression models showed that, when all six substances were added to the baseline model, cigarettes and alcohol were the only significant predictors of change in the level of violence. Two measures of polydrug use, based on prevalence and on frequency, were then constructed across all six substances. At each level of polydrug use, using either measure, we found a consistent increase in the mean level of violence. Despite gender differences in the levels of violence, the same relation between polydrug use and violence was found within each gender. Controlling for the level of polydrug use, there were no consistent differences in the level of Time 2 violence between users and non-users of any specific substance. Employing a cross-lagged model, we were able to ascertain a clear direction of causation: violence did not lead to increased polydrug use, but polydrug use led to increased violence. We speculate that high levels of polydrug use reflect




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Journal Article

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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health


Dornbusch, S. M.
Lin, I. C.
Munroe, P. T.
Bianchi, A. J.

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