The present study examined the joint development of substance use and externalizing problems in early and middle adolescence. First, it was tested whether the relevant groups found in previous studies i.e., those with an early onset, a late onset, and no onset or low levels of risk behavior could be identified, while using a developmental
model of a single, underlying construct of risk behavior. Second, departing from Moffitt’s taxonomy of antisocial behavior, it was tested if early, but not late, onset risk behavior is predicted by a problematic risk profile in childhood. Data were used from TRAILS, a population based cohort study, starting at age 11 with two follow-ups at mean ages of 13.6 and 16.3 years. Latent transition analyses demonstrated that, both in early and middle adolescence, a single underlying construct of risk behavior, consisting of two classes (labeled as low and high risk behavior), adequately represented the data. Respondents could be clearly classified into four possible transition patterns from early to middle adolescence, with a transition from high to low being almost non-existent (2.5 %), low to low (39.4 %) and low to high (41.8 %) being the most prevalent, and high to high (16.2 %) substantial. As hypothesized, only the high-high group was characterized by a clear adverse predictor profile in late childhood, while the low-high group was not. This study demonstrates that the development of substance use is correlated with externalizing problems and underscores the theory that etiologies of early and later onset risk behavior are different.
Effects of divorce on children’s behavioral development have proven to be quite varied across studies and most developmental and family scholars today appreciate the great heterogeneity in divorce effects. Thus, this inquiry sought to determine whether select dopaminergic genes previously associated with externalizing behavior and/or found to moderate diverse environmental effects (DRD2, DRD4, COMT) might moderate divorce effects on adolescent self-reported externalizing problems; and, if so, whether evidence of gene-environment (GXE) interaction would prove consistent with diathesis-stress or differential-susceptibility models of environmental action. Data from the first and third wave of the Dutch TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS, n = 1,134) revealed some evidence of GXE interaction reflecting diathesis-stress but not differential susceptibility. Intriguingly, some evidence pointed to “vantage sensitivity”—benefits accruing to those with a specific genotype when their parents remained together, the exact opposite of diathesis-stress.