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The Origins of the Correlations between Tobacco, Alcohol, and Cannabis Use During Adolescence

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Methods of structural equation modelling were used to analyse the correlations between reports of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use in a birth cohort of New Zealand children studied to the age of 16. This analysis produced three major conclusions: (a) the correlations between tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use could be explained by a factor representing the individual's vulnerability to substance use; (b) predictors of vulnerability to substance use were the extent to which the individual affiliated with delinquent or substance using peers, novelty seeking, and parental illicit drug use; (c) in the region of 54% of the correlations between substance use behaviours could be predicted from observed risk factors and 46% was attributable to non-observed sources of vulnerability.
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Keywords: Substance use; adolescence; longitudinal study; structural equation modelling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Christchurch School of Medicine, New Zealand

Publication date: October 1, 1998

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