A model of school problems, academic failure, alcohol initiation, and the relationship to adult heroin injection

Subst Use Misuse. 2012 Aug;47(10):1159-71. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2012.686142. Epub 2012 May 24.


The current study uses structural equation modeling to investigate factors associated with alcohol initiation and injection heroin use. Baseline data from the NEURO-HIV Epidemiologic Study in Baltimore, Maryland, were used. Participants were 404 injection heroin users (M(age) = 32.72) with a history of regular injection in their lifetime. Latent variables were created for self-reported school problems and academic failure. The final model indicated that greater school problems were associated with earlier alcohol initiation (ß = -0.22, p < .001) and earlier alcohol initiation was associated with greater frequency of recent heroin use (ß = -0.12, p < .05). Academic failure was directly related to greater frequency of recent heroin injection (ß = 0.15, p < .01). The results expand research investigating the relationship between adolescent behavior and illicit drug use in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Baltimore
  • Educational Status*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Heroin Dependence / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Schools*
  • Social Problems*
  • Young Adult