The Role of Internalizing Mental Health Problems in Substance Use Trajectories for Minority Adolescents

Patrice Ryce, Selcuk R. Sirin, Lauren Rogers-Sirin, Esther J. Sin, Josephine Palmeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on adolescence and substance use point to a link between internalizing problems and substance use. The current longitudinal study investigates how internalizing problems and substance use change over time among minority adolescents and the role of internalizing problems in predicting trajectories of substance use among African American and Latinx adolescents, with attention to variation by gender, ethnicity, and generation status. This study follows a large sample of minority immigrant adolescents over three waves of data collection (10th, 11th, and 12th grades). Individual growth curve modeling showed that substance use increased over time while internalizing problems decreased overtime. Results showed that changes in internalizing problems over time significantly predicted changes in substance use over time. Ethnicity moderated this relation; specifically, greater internalizing problems predicted greater substance use for Latinx, but not African Americans. No significant interactions were found among gender or generation status in predicting substance use at intercept. Implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2031-2044
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Adolescence
  • African Americans
  • Internalizing problems
  • Latinx
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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