For African American emerging adult men, developmental challenges are evident in their escalating substance abuse and depressive symptoms; this is particularly true for men from low-resource communities. The present study tests a developmental model linking childhood adversity and contemporaneous contextual stressors to increases in emerging adults’ substance use and depressive symptoms, indirectly, via increases in defensive/hostile relational schemas and social developmental risk factors (e.g., risky peers and romantic partners, lack of involvement in school or work). We also advance exploratory hypotheses regarding DNA methylation in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) as a moderator of the effects of stress on relational schemas. Hypotheses were tested with three waves of data from 505 rural African American men aged 19–25 years. Adverse childhood experiences predicted exposure to emerging adult contextual stressors. Contextual stressors forecast increases in defensive/hostile relational schemas, which increased social developmental risk factors. Social developmental risk factors proximally predicted increases in substance abuse and depressive symptoms. OXTR DNA methylation moderated the effects of contextual stressors on defensive/hostile relational schemas. Findings suggest that early exposures to stress carry forward to affect the development of social developmental risk factors in emerging adulthood, which place rural African American men at risk for increased substance abuse and depressive symptoms during the emerging adult years.