Interactive Effect of Parent and Adolescent Psychiatric Symptoms on Substance Use among Adolescents in Community Treatment

Lourah M. Kelly*, Sara J. Becker, Jennifer C. Wolff, Hannah Graves, Anthony Spirito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both adolescent and parent psychiatric symptoms are well-established risk factors for adolescent substance use (SU), but the ways that these symptoms interact are not well understood. This study examined the interactive effects of parent and adolescent psychiatric symptoms on adolescent frequency of alcohol and marijuana use, over and above the effects of parental SU. Seventy adolescents presenting to a community mental health center (CMHC) participated. Parent and adolescent psychiatric symptoms were measured with the brief symptom inventory (BSI) and child behavior checklist (CBCL), respectively. Hierarchical regressions revealed different patterns for adolescent alcohol and marijuana use. For alcohol, the BSI parent phobic anxiety subscale predicted increased adolescent use while the parent interpersonal sensitivity subscale predicted decreased use: the effects of these parental symptoms were strongest among adolescents with higher levels of externalizing problems on the CBCL. For marijuana, the BSI parent psychoticism subscale predicted increased adolescent use, whereas paranoid ideation predicted decreased use. Results suggest that adolescent SU treatment and assessment should attend to both adolescent and parent psychiatric symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-393
Number of pages11
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Community behavioral health clinic
  • Psychiatric symptoms
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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