Friday, December 25, 2015

Witnessing drug use can spur immediate antisocial behavior by teens

Public Release: 9-Dec-2015
Witnessing drug use can spur immediate antisocial behavior by teens
Likelihood much greater for those with 'risk-taking' gene
Duke University

Seeing others drink alcohol or use drugs makes it more likely that teenagers will engage in antisocial behavior on the same day, according to new findings from Duke University.

The risk is significantly greater for young adolescents who have a 'risk-taking' gene associated with sensitivity to substance use exposure.

"Past research has shown that children who grow up in families, schools and neighborhoods where alcohol and drugs are frequently used are at risk for behavioral problems later in life, but our findings demonstrate that these effects are immediate," said Candice Odgers, associate professor in Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.


The authors compared a teen's behavior on days when he or she was around people using substances to the same teen's behavior on days when he or she was not. This approach allowed the researchers to test whether witnessing substance use triggers antisocial behaviors including stealing, damaging property or hitting or hurting someone.

They found that witnessing substance abuse triggers misbehavior for both males and females, and especially for the 30 percent in their study group who carry the DRD4-7R genotype.

On days adolescents were exposed to others using alcohol or drugs, youth without the DRD4-7R variant were twice as likely to engage in antisocial behavior, Russell said. Adolescents with the DRD4-7R variant, however, were six times as likely.

"Our findings support the idea that situations where others are using alcohol or drugs may serve as 'triggering contexts' for adolescents' problem behavior," Russell said, "and that some youth, by virtue of their genetics, appear more sensitive to these environmental risks than others."

The DRD4-7R variant is associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disorder characterized by novelty-seeking behavior and impulsivity. Recent studies have shown that DRD4-7R carriers may also be more reactive to conditions in their surrounding environments, a phenomenon known as "differential susceptibility."

The combination of increased impulsivity and heightened reactivity to environments may explain why adolescents with the DRD4-7R variant were at greater risk for same-day antisocial behavior, Russell said. More research is needed to know for sure, he added.


No comments:

Post a Comment