Conduct problems and depressive symptoms in the 8th grade are more predictive of later substance use in the 12th grade than those that manifest in 10th grade.
Underage alcohol use leads to 2.4 million injuries and 3,100 deaths a year. In order to target prevention and intervention programs for adolescents, it would be helpful to know which early predictors of substance use most influence youth. The current literature offers competing hypotheses regarding whether distal (earlier, such as in 8th grade) mental health problems (conduct problems and depressive symptoms) or more proximal (12th grade) problems are associated with substance use. Conduct problems include stealing, trespassing, vandalism, and getting into fights. Depressive symptoms range from feelings of sadness and helplessness to loss of pleasure in normal activities.