Impulsivity and Stressful Life Events Independently Relate to Problematic Substance Use In At-Risk Adolescents

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A primary goal of the current study was to examine impulsivity and stressful life events as predictors of at-risk youth substance use and its consequences. These factors were assessed in a sample of 205 adolescents (82% male, 60% white) in a military-style residential facility. Participants completed self-report measures of lifetime substance use behaviors (YRBSS), personality factors associated with impulsive tendencies (UPPS-P), and experiences of stressful life events (SLES). Results indicated that select impulsivity dimensions predicted substance use and the inclusion of stress as a model predictor outperformed models of impulsivity alone. Additionally, impulsivity dimensions were primarily associated with substance use consequence outcomes. These findings are consistent with previous research suggesting that individual differences and environmental factors are both important when understanding adolescent substance use. Results highlight the significance of reducing stress exposure and increasing stress coping strategies in combating at-risk youth substance use behaviors. Such results may be considered when developing and/or enhancing substance use intervention efforts. Future research may further explore result generalizability, as well as project limitations such as response bias. Keywords: Impulsivity, Adolescent substance use, Stressful life events, General liability theory, UPPS-P model of impulsivity, At-risk youth.

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International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

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