Directions of the Relationship between Substance Use and Depressive Symptoms from Adolescent to Young Adulthood

Andra Wilkinson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carolyn Tucker Halpern, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Amy H. Herring, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Objectives: Explore the longitudinal, potentially bidirectional, relationships between high-frequency substance use and depressive symptoms from adolescence into young adulthood. Method: Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health we investigated longitudinal associations between substance use (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana) and depressive symptoms, stratified by gender, using linear mixed effects and multinomial logistic regression models. Results: Increases in Wave I depressive symptoms are significantly associated with high frequency use of all substances for males, but only marijuana for females. Conversely, high frequency use of any substance is significantly positively associated with depressive symptoms for females. For males, only high frequency use of marijuana, cigarettes, or both was associated depressive symptoms. Conclusions: These results indicate stronger evidence for depressive symptoms predicting substance use in males. For females, there was stronger evidence of the reverse pathway of substance use being associated with increases in depressive symptoms.

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Presented in Session 29: Adolescent Risk Behaviors and Health