The Relationships Between Emerging Adult Transition Themes, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Substance Use Patterns Among a Community Cohort of Hispanics

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Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology





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Background: Emerging adulthood (ages 18-26) is a time of identity exploration, experimentation, focusing on self or others, and instability, themes captured in the Inventory of Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA). Preliminary evidence suggests that emerging adults (EAs) with a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) score differently on transition dimensions than their peers, however, the role of ACE in the IDEA-substance use relationship is unknown. Method: Data are from a longitudinal study of acculturation and health among Hispanics in California (N = 1,065). Multivariable regression models assessed the association between IDEA and ACE (no ACE, 1-3 ACE, and ≥ 4 ACE) for substance use behaviors over 2 time points. Interaction terms assessed whether ACE moderated the association between subjective perceptions of IDEA at age 20 and substance use at age 24. Results: ACE-exposed EAs scored higher on identity exploration, instability, self-focus, and experimentation dimensions than their peers (ps < .01-.001). Scores on experimentation, identity exploration, and self-focus at age 20 were associated with divergent patterns of substance use across ACE exposure categories. In comparison to other groups, individuals in ≥ 4 ACE group who strongly identified with these transition themes at age 20 had the highest probability of binge drinking, past 30-day alcohol, marijuana, and illicit drug use at age 24 (adjusted odds ratios = 1.09-1.49, confidence interval [1.02-2.58]). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that ACE can affect subjective perceptions of transition themes and increased risk for substance use over time. Implications for substance use prevention efforts tailored to Hispanic EAs are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


Emerging adulthood; Adverse childhood experiences; Substance use; Hispanic community


Child Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences



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