Poor response inhibition as a predictor of problem drinking and illicit drug use in adolescents at risk for alcoholism and other substance use disorders

Joel T. Nigg, Maria M. Wong, Michelle M. Martel, Jennifer M. Jester, Leon I. Puttler, Jennifer M. Glass, Kenneth M. Adams, Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Robert A. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

345 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the predictive power of executive functions, in particular, response inhibition, in relation to alcohol-related problems and illicit drug use in adolescence. Method: A total of 498 children from 275 families from a longitudinal high-risk study completed executive function measures in early and late adolescence and lifetime drinking and drug-related ratings at multiple time points including late adolescence (ages 15-17). Multi-informant measures of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorder were obtained in early childhood (ages 3-5), middle childhood, and adolescence. Results: In multilevel models, poor response inhibition predicted aggregate alcohol-related problems, the number of illicit drugs used, and comorbid alcohol and drug use (but not the number of drug-related problems), independently of IQ, parental alcoholism and antisocial personality disorder, child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and conduct symptoms, or age. Multivariate models explained 8% to 20% of residual variance in outcome scores. The incremental predictive power of response inhibition was modest, explaining about 1% of the variance in most outcomes, but more than 9% of the residual variance in problem outcomes within the highest risk families. Other measured executive functions did not independently predict substance use onset. Conclusion: Models of alcoholism and other drug risks that invoke executive functions may benefit from specifying response inhibition as an incremental component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-475
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

Keywords

  • Alcoholism
  • Children of alcoholics
  • Executive functions
  • Response inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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