Initiation of substance use in early adolescence: the roles of pubertal timing and emotional distress

Health Psychol. 1994 Jul;13(4):326-33. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.13.4.326.


Two hypotheses regarding the effects of pubertal timing on substance use were tested in a prospective study of 221 young adolescents. A maturational-deviance hypothesis predicted that early-maturing girls and late-maturing boys would experience heightened emotional distress, which in turn would influence initiation and use of substances. Alternatively, an early-maturation hypothesis predicted that early-maturing girls would engage in more substance use than all other groups, independent of emotional distress. Early-maturing adolescents reported more substance use within 1 year. Adolescents experiencing elevated levels of negative affect also reported greater substance use within the next year. However, pubertal timing was not related to emotional distress. Results support the early-maturation hypothesis for girls and suggest its extension to boys.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Puberty / physiology
  • Puberty / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*