Problems Experienced by Children From Families With Histories of Substance Misuse: An ABCD Study®
There are significant knowledge gaps of the vulnerabilities faced by youth from families with histories of alcohol or substance misuse. This study aimed to provide a comprehensive assessment of problems experienced by substance-naive children with positive family histories of substance misuse (FHP).
Baseline data from up to 11,873 children (52.1 % male), aged 9.0–10.9 years (M = 9.9 ± 0.6), enrolled in the US-based Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study® were utilized. Mixed models tested cross-sectional associations between family history of substance misuse, assessed categorically and continuously, with neurobiological, cognitive, behavioral, and psychological outcomes, when controlling for confounding factors, including family history of psychopathology, and correcting for multiple comparisons.
One in four (26.3 %) youth were categorized as FHP (defined as ≥ one parent or ≥ two grandparents with misuse history). Controlling for confounding, FHP youth exhibited thinner whole cortices and greater surface area in frontal and occipital regions than youth with no such history (|ds|≥0.04, ps<.001). FHP youth experienced greater psychopathology and sleep disturbance (|ds|≥0.36, ps<.001) and were more likely to be diagnosed with multiple mental disorders (odds ratios≥1.22, ps<.001), with severity of effects dependent on family history density of substance misuse. Differences in cognition, impulsivity, and motivation were non-significant. Psychopathology, mental disorders, and sleep disturbance were negatively correlated with various neural indices (|rs|=0.01−0.05, ps<.05).
At age 9–10 years, FHP youth can experience numerous problems, with psychopathology and mental disorders being some of the most significant. Therefore, prevention efforts should target psychopathology vulnerabilities in FHP children.