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Juvenile Offenders' Alcohol and Marijuana Trajectories: Risk and Protective Factor Effects in the Context of Time in a Supervised Facility

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Abstract:

The current study modeled trajectories of substance use from ages 15 to 20 among 1,095 male serious juvenile offenders (M age = 16.54; 42% African-American, 34% Latino, 20% European-American, and 4% other ethnic/racial backgrounds) and prospectively predicted trajectories from risk and protective factors before and after controlling for time spent in a supervised setting. Results indicated that supervised time suppressed age-related growth in substance use. Trajectories of offenders with no supervised time and low levels of supervised time increased in substance use across age, whereas offenders with high levels of supervised time showed no growth. Almost all risk and protective factors had effects on initial substance use but only adolescent history of substance use, impulse control, and psychosocial maturity had an effect on change in substance use over time. Findings highlight the importance of formal sanctions and interventions superimposed on normal developmental processes in understanding trajectories of substance use among serious juvenile offenders.