Affiliation with deviant peers among children of substance dependent fathers from pre-adolescence into adolescence: associations with problem behaviors

Howard B Moss, Kevin G Lynch, Thomas L Hardie
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2003 August 20, 71 (2): 117-25

OBJECTIVE: Affiliation with delinquent peers has been shown to be a major risk factor for the development of antisocial and substance abuse behaviors in adolescence. However, little data are available concerning the developmental trajectories of deviant peer affiliation.

METHOD: In this study, we have prospectively examined the density of deviant peers among the social networks of children of drug dependent fathers at age 10, and at 2 and 5 year follow-ups, and compared them with those of controls. Measures of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology were employed as time varying covariates, while socioeconomic status (SES) was used as a time invariant covariate. A pattern mixture analysis of missing data was conducted.

RESULTS: Using mixed effects models, we found significant main effects of time, group, externalizing psychopathology, and to lesser extent, SES on the magnitude of affiliation with deviant peers. Greater deviant peer affiliation among the high-risk children was found at each time point. Externalizing psychopathology augmented the magnitude of deviant peer affiliation in both high-risk and comparison children.

CONCLUSION: Offspring of drug dependent fathers have heightened affiliation with deviant peers from pre-adolescence through mid-adolescence. This social developmental process may be a component of the familial risk for substance abuse and antisocial behaviors.

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