Substance use in adolescence undermines normative development across all cultural communities. Onset before age 15–16 years predicts problematic substance use in young adulthood (Dishion & Owen, 2002; Robins & Przybeck, 1985). Early and sustained substance use contributes to a variety of young adult difficulties and negative consequences, including disengagement from education opportunities (Newcomb & Bentler, 1988a), delayed or troubled family commitments (Kandel et al., 1986; Newcomb & Bentler, 1988b), and continued substance use into the third decade of life (Chen & Kandel, 1995). The purpose of this chapter is to consider the application of our current thinking on the development and intervention of adolescent substance use to American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) youth and families.
Research since the mid-1980s has produced abundant information regarding risk factors associated with adolescent substance use (Beauvais, 1992; Hawkins et al., 1992; Herring, 1994; Moncher, Holden, & Trimble, 1990; Walker et al., 1988). Only a handful of studies have measured risk factors in middle childhood, prior to the onset of substance use. By and large, these studies agree that a combination of family disruption and early problem behavior at home and school are antecedents to early-onset drug use (Baumrind, 1985; Block, Block, & Keyes, 1988; Dishion, Capaldi, & Yoerger, 1999; Kellam et al., 1983; McCord, 1988; Pulkkinen, 1983; Smith & Fogg, 1979).
The literature on substance use can be used to formulate a model that is a useful empirical guideline for the design of both substance use treatment and prevention protocols (Dishion, Reid, & Patterson, 1988).