Parent involvement, sibling companionship, and adolescent substance use: A longitudinal, genetically informed design

Diana R. Samek, Martha A Rueter, Margaret A Keyes, Matt Mc Gue, William G Iacono

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28 Scopus citations


A large literature shows that parent and sibling relationship factors are associated with an increased likelihood of adolescent substance use. Less is known about the etiology of these associations. Using a genetically informed sibling design, we examined the prospective associations between parent involvement, sibling companionship, and adolescent substance use at 2 points in mid- and late-adolescence. Adolescents were adopted (n = 568) or the biological offspring of both parents (n = 412). Cross-lagged panel results showed that higher levels of parent involvement in early adolescence were associated with lower levels of substance use later in adolescence. Results did not significantly differ across adoption status, suggesting this association cannot be due to passive gene-environment correlation. Adolescent substance use at Time 1 was not significantly associated with parent involvement at Time 2, suggesting this association does not appear to be solely due to evocative (i.e., "child-driven") effects either. Together, results support a protective influence of parent involvement on subsequent adolescent substance use that is environmental in nature. The cross-paths between sibling companionship and adolescent substance use were significant and negative in direction (i.e., protective) for sisters, but positive for brothers (in line with a social contagion hypothesis). These effects were consistent across genetically related and unrelated pairs, and thus appear to be environmentally mediated. For mixed gender siblings, results were consistent with environmentally driven, protective influence hypothesis for genetically unrelated pairs, but in line with a genetically influenced, social contagion hypothesis for genetically related pairs. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-623
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Psychological Association.


  • Adolescent substance use
  • Gene-environment interplay
  • Parent- child relationships
  • Sibling relationships


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