Pathways from proactive and reactive aggression to substance use
Fite, Paula J.
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Research has consistently shown that risk for substance abuse starts early, much earlier than when children actually initiate substance use. It is important to further study the pathways that lead to substance abuse to better refine current prevention and intervention strategies. Research has linked physical aggression to later substance use; however, aggression is not a unidimensional construct. Aggressive acts can be divided into two functions, proactive and reactive. However, little research has examined how proactive and reactive aggression relate to substance use. The current study examined whether childhood proactive aggression, reactive aggression, or both were related to adolescent substance use (i.e., alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana). In addition, the study examined whether peer rejection and peer delinquency mediated the relation between these two subtypes of aggression and substance use. Findings suggested that reactive aggression was associated with increased risk for alcohol use initiation. In addition, reactive aggression was associated with marijuana use through self-delinquency. Contrary to expectation, however, proactive aggression was found to be protective of alcohol and marijuana use. Recommendations for future research are discussed.