The role of life events, family support, and competence in adolescent substance use: a test of vulnerability and protective factors

Am J Community Psychol. 1992 Jun;20(3):349-74. doi: 10.1007/BF00937914.


Tested propositions from a model of vulnerability and protective factors with a multiethnic sample of 1,289 urban adolescents, aged 11-13 years. The criterion variable was a composite score for cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use. Multiple regression analyses indicated that vulnerability factors (negative life events, negative affect) were related to a higher level of substance use, and protective factors (parent emotional and instrumental support, academic and adult competence, positive affect) were related to a lower level of substance use; peer competence was positively related to substance use in a multivariate model. There was a significant overall interaction of Vulnerability x Protective Factors, consistent with a stress-buffering effect. Individual interactions for Life Events x Family Support, Life Events x Competence, and Negative x Positive Affect also were consistent with buffering effects. Implications for theories of substance use and primary prevention are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affect
  • Child
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Prevalence
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Support*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology