Reviewing theories of adolescent substance use: organizing pieces in the puzzle

Psychol Bull. 1995 Jan;117(1):67-86. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.1.67.


This article reviews 14 multivariate theories of experimental substance use (e.g., alcohol and marijuana use) among adolescents, including those theories that emphasize (a) substance-specific cognitions, (b) social learning processes, (c) commitment to conventional values and attachment to families, and (d) intrapersonal processes. Important similarities and differences among these theories are addressed, as are the conceptual boundaries of each theory. In an attempt to integrate existing theories, a framework is proposed that organizes their central constructs into 3 distinct types of influence (viz., social, attitudinal, and intrapersonal) and 3 distinct levels of influence (viz., proximal, distal, and ultimate). Implications for future theory development are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Motivation*
  • Object Attachment
  • Personality Development*
  • Social Conformity
  • Social Identification
  • Social Values