Adolescence is a period of high risk for the development of risk behaviors including substance use, but how risk factors such as family environment contribute to increases in substance use, especially increasing substance use rates for girls, is not clear. The proposed research will examine gender-related multi-modal responses to parent-adolescent conflict and drug use discussions and explore the bio-behavioral mechanisms underlying the well-known impact of parenting and family factors on the development of risky behaviors from early to middle adolescence. Findings from this research will help improve family-based prevention programs for adolescent girls and boys. For more information on the Parent-Teen Study, click here.
Parent-Teen Study: fMRI Component
Adolescence is a critical period for the development of brain regions involved in emotional arousal and regulation. Also during adolescence, substance use rates increase dramatically. However, there is a lack of research on how emotion-related neural activation may contribute to substance use in adolescence. The proposed research will examine emotion-related neural activation patterns as these predict increases in substance use and risk behaviors from early to middle adolescence in a well-characterized sample of youth. Findings from this research will help improve emotion-based substance abuse prevention programs. For more information on fMRI safety, click here.
Parent stress is a key risk factor for adolescent substance use and other problems. Mindfulness-based interventions are empirically-supported programs that have been demonstrated to reduce stress in adults. This study will develop and test a parenting-focused mindfulness intervention (the “Parenting Mindfully” program) in order to reduce parent stress, improve parenting, and prevent adolescent substance use and risky behaviors. If supported, the parenting mindfully program could be a cost-effective strategy to reduce parents’ stress and stress-related disorders and at the same time prevent substance use and risk behaviors in their children. For more information on the Parenting-Mindfully Study, click here.
Emotional Arousal in High Risk Adolescents
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) is known to specifically impact emotional arousal systems and may also be a risk factor for substance use disorders and depression in adolescence. However, few studies have followed PCE children into adolescence to test this possibility. This study follows a well-characterized cohort of cocaine-exposed and non-exposed adolescents who have been studied since their birth (PI: Mayes). The study will examine links between their bio-psycho-social emotion-related responses to a laboratory stress task and trajectories of substance use and depressive symptoms through a 12-month follow-up. Understanding possible mechanisms for the initiation and early escalation of substance use disorders and depression will inform the development of interventions for adolescents at risk.