This study reports on the social problem-solving interactions of young adolescents in single-parent and intact families on substance-specific and nonsubstance-related issues. Although research has shown the impact of families on adolescent substance use, all of the previous results have been based on questionnaire or interview data. A sample of 128 families was selected from a larger sample of 763 within a longitudinal study of adolescent substance use. Parent(s) and one adolescent, aged 11-15, participated in interactions which were videotaped for later coding. In three standard scenarios, the families discussed fictional assignments from a health class teacher about the use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. In addition, they discussed an issue salient to them that was the source of recent conflict. Results showed that aversive affective behavior was more likely to be displayed by substance-using adolescents, whether or not the issue was drug-related. Mothers' and fathers' alcohol use was also shown to contribute to alcohol and cigarette use among their children, while fathers' smoking contributed to marijuana and hard drug use. These data suggest that such families may not be skilled at resolving issues and coping with life's difficulties whether or not they are drug-related.