Influence of mother-daughter attachment on substance use: a longitudinal study of a Latina community-based sample

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2015 Mar;76(2):307-16. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2015.76.307.


Objective: Advancing our initial, cross-sectional study, which showed that adult Latinas' mother-daughter attachment relates to their substance use, the current, longitudinal study tests whether mother and daughter attachment scores at baseline predict their substance use over time.

Method: We analyzed data from a convenience sample of 133 Latina adult mothers (mean age = 52 years, SD = 10) and 133 Latina adult daughters (mean age = 27, SD = 9) at baseline and at 5-year and 6-year follow-ups after baseline (attrition rate = 16%). Multilevel longitudinal modeling was used to examine the effect of mother-daughter attachment at baseline on their substance use over time.

Results: Each unit of increase in the attachment score at baseline is associated with a 0.28 drink decrease in monthly alcohol use (p < .05) and a lower likelihood of being a heavy alcohol or other drug user [exp(β) = 0.97, p < .01] compared with average attachment score at baseline (M = 91.52, SD = 18.00). Time and older age at baseline are associated with decreased substance use. Being born outside the United States is associated with decreased risk of heavy alcohol or other drug use. Being a mother is associated with increased substance use.

Conclusions: The findings of this longitudinal study on adult Latinas indicate that mother-daughter attachment has long-lasting effects on substance use trajectories among adult Latinas. Future research should focus on (a) investigating social and cultural factors mediating this relationship and (b) greater substance use among Latina mothers compared with daughters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers
  • Nuclear Family
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • United States
  • Young Adult