Delinquency and drug use among adolescents and emerging adults: The role of aggression, impulsivity, empathy, and cognitive distortions [2018]

Risk behaviors are well known to be higher in adolescents and emerging adults. Drug use and delinquency present several common predictive factors. The aim of the present study was to assess the contribution of individual factors (aggression, impulsivity, empathy, and cognitive distortions) to delinquent behaviors, alcohol use and cannabis consumption among adolescents and emerging adults. Participants were between 15 and 25 years of age (M = 18.64 years, SD = 2.61); 325 were adolescents (15–18 years of age, M = 16.56, SD = 1.11, 56.31% of women) and 283 were emerging adults (19–25 years, M = 21.03, SD = 1.62, 50.88% of women). They completed self-report validated questionnaires. Multiple regression analyses showed that all individual factors significantly predicted delinquency. Impulsivity and empathy significantly predicted alcohol use. Concerning cannabis use, impulsivity is the only significantly associated predictor. Moderation analysis showed that specific associations were stronger in adolescents, whereas others were stronger in emerging adults. All these variables explained 69% of the variance of delinquency, 31% of the variance of alcohol use, and 18% of the variance of cannabis use. This model demonstrated acceptable goodness-of-fit criteria. These results may have implications for prevention and intervention.

Emilie Schmits & Fabienne Glowacz

Journal of Substance Use, 19 Oct 2018