Declaration of interest
Adolescent substance use is associated with both earlier childhood behavioural problems and serious lifetime addiction problems later in life.
To examine whether, and through which mechanisms, targeting risk factors in early childhood prevents substance use across adolescence.
Disruptive kindergarten boys (n = 172) living in Montreal were randomly allocated to a preventive intervention and a control condition. The intervention was delivered over 2 years (7-9 years of age) with two main components: (a) social and problem-solving skills training for the boys; and (b) training for parents on effective child-rearing skills.
Adolescent substance use, up to 8 years post-intervention, was reduced in those who received the intervention (d = 0.48-0.70). Of most interest, the intervention effects were explained partly by reductions in impulsivity, antisocial behaviour and affiliation with less deviant peers during pre-adolescence (11-13 years).
Adolescent substance use may be indirectly prevented by selectively targeting childhood risk factors that disrupt the developmental cascade of adolescent risk factors for substance use.
- Royal College of Psychiatrists