Adolescent Precursors to Financial Stress and Alcohol Problems

Project Title: Adolescent Precursors to Financial Stress and Alcohol Problems in Emerging Adulthood
Dates of Project: 8/1/2011-7/31/2012
Funder: National Institute On Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism
Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D.

Abstract: The goal of this revised project is to examine the developmental course of alcohol-related problems by focusing on the dynamic associations among family relationships, financial well-being, and drinking behavior from adolescence through young adulthood. To achieve this goal, we propose using four waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (the Add Health Study) in response to PA-08-167.An important predictor of alcohol problems in both adolescence and young adulthood is compromised parent-adolescent relationships. Another predictor is financial stress which may be particularly relevant during times of economic downturn. However, little is known about the dynamics of financial stress and its association with alcohol problems in adolescence and young adulthood. Testing an extension of The Family Stress Model (FSM), this research examines the potential long-term effects of family financial stress and parent-child relationship quality in adolescence on young adult family relationships, financial stress, and alcohol problems. The study design allows for tests of alternate explanations for pathways of influence. The research will contribute to several areas of basic and practical knowledge relevant to alcohol-related problems, prevention and treatment, and to programs and policies related to reducing financial stress and debt levels during young adulthood. The specific research aims are:

Aim 1 (Adolescence and the Transition to Adulthood): To test an extension of the Family Stress Model (adolescent family financial stress will predict parent-adolescent relationships, which in turn influence alcohol problems in adolescence and into young adulthood);

Aim 2 (Young Adulthood)
: To examine the dynamic associations in young adulthood between relationships with parents, financial stress, and alcohol problems; and

Aim 3 (The Full Model): To test an elaborated model of the associations between adolescent family financial stress, relationships with parents, and young adult financial stress and alcohol problems. This combined model posits that family financial stress in adolescence is linked to young adult alcohol problems through its potential lasting influence on relationships with parents and financial stress. Additional analyses will test alternative pathways of influence.

Once the suitability of these models has been established relative to alcohol problems, we will extend the analyses to the use of illegal substances. Because alcohol problems and problem trajectories vary by gender and race/ethnicity, analyses of potential gender and ethnic differences, or combinations of gender and ethnicity, will be integrated within each aim.

Project Narrative: This research examines the long-term effects of family financial stress and parent-child relationships during adolescence on young adult family relationships, financial stress, and alcohol problems. By using a national study that follows participants from adolescence through young adulthood, we can track developing patterns of alcohol problems and identify factors that contribute to these patterns. This study provides a unique opportunity to extend research in financial stress and alcohol problems in young adulthood, to test multiple models for understanding the mechanisms and directions of influence among these key constructs, and to identify possible points of prevention and intervention.

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