Conduct problems, substance use, and risky sexual behavior have been shown to coexist among adolescents, which may lead to significant health problems. The current study was designed to examine relations among these problem behaviors in a community sample of children at high risk for conduct disorder. A latent growth model of childhood conduct problems showed a decreasing trend from grades K to 5. During adolescence, four concurrent conduct problem and substance use trajectory classes were identified (high conduct problems and high substance use, increasing conduct problems and increasing substance use, minimal conduct problems and increasing substance use, and minimal conduct problems and minimal substance use) using a parallel process growth mixture model. Across all substances (tobacco, binge drinking, and marijuana use), higher levels of childhood conduct problems during kindergarten predicted a greater probability of classification into more problematic adolescent trajectory classes relative to less problematic classes. For tobacco and binge drinking models, increases in childhood conduct problems over time also predicted a greater probability of classification into more problematic classes. For all models, individuals classified into more problematic classes showed higher proportions of early sexual intercourse, infrequent condom use, receiving money for sexual services, and ever contracting an STD. Specifically, tobacco use and binge drinking during early adolescence predicted higher levels of sexual risk taking into late adolescence. Results highlight the importance of studying the conjoint relations among conduct problems, substance use, and risky sexual behavior in a unified model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)