Nav: Home

Crime ties are relative in youth offenders' substance abuse

September 16, 2015

A new UT Dallas study has found that having family or friends involved in crime was the best predictor of whether a youth offender would become a long-term marijuana user or heavy drinker.

The study was the result of interdisciplinary collaboration by Dr. Alex Piquero, associate dean of graduate programs and Ashbel Smith Professor of Criminology in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; associate professor Dr. Francesca Filbey at the Center for BrainHealth in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences; and three co-authors from other universities.

Their work was recently published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

The authors studied a sample of 1,354 youths ages 14 to 17 -- mostly male -- who had been adjudicated or convicted of serious offenses including violent crimes, property crimes, weapons and sex crimes. Researchers evaluated a variety of factors, including demographics, family arrest histories, education, impulsiveness, intelligence, neighborhood and peers. They followed up with the participants regularly over seven years.

The researchers initially projected that the neighborhood issues -- gangs, delinquent peers, unmonitored activities and gun carrying -- would be the strongest contributor to long-term substance abuse. Delinquent peers and family arrests played a greater role than expected. Lack of ability to control impulses also emerged as a top factor.

The findings underscore the importance of training youths to strengthen impulse control and resist peer pressure as part of drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs, Piquero said.

"Policywise, efforts at improving self-control and increasing resistance to peer antisocial behavior appear to be critical in preventing heavy substance use," he said.

Neuropsychological factors -- IQ and other cognitive measures -- did not play as big a role as the other factors.

"Existing cross-sectional studies show that substance abusers exhibit poorer cognition," Filbey said. "What this work presents is that, although neuropsychological factors don't appear to increase risk, decreased cognitive function is likely an effect, rather than a cause, of substance use. This would suggest that changes in the brain occur following substance use."
Dr. Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing, associate professor at the University of New Mexico, Dr. Thomas A. Loughran, assistant professor at the University of Maryland, and Dr. Laurie Chassin, Regents Professor at Arizona State University, also contributed to the study.

University of Texas at Dallas

Related Crime Articles:

Well-kept vacant lots can help reduce crime
Maintaining the yards of vacant properties helps reduce crime rates in urban neighborhoods, indicates a new Michigan State University study that's the most comprehensive to date.
The carbon footprint of crime has fallen, study finds
A study led by an engineering doctorate student at the University of Surrey has found that the carbon footprint of crime over the last 20 years has fallen.
Why prisons continue to grow, even when crime declines
A new study may help explain why the number of people in prison in the United States continued to rise, even as the crime rate declined significantly.
Why prisons continue to grow, even when crime declines
The US prison population continued to rise even after the crime rate began declining in the mid-1990s because judges were faced with more repeat offenders, a new study suggests.
Should crime victims call the police?
New research from the University of Iowa finds that individuals who report being victims of crime to police are less likely to become future victims of crime than those who do not report their initial experiences.
Stressful trigger events associated with risk of violent crime
A study published online by JAMA Psychiatry of patients in Sweden suggests trigger events, including exposure to violence, were associated with increased risk of violent crime in the week following exposure among patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and among individuals without psychiatric diagnoses who were included for comparison.
The true cost of crime -- in carbon footprints
Recent research by the University of Surrey's Centre for Environmental Strategy has found that despite policy makers currently examining the economic and social impacts of crime, the environmental impacts have not, to date, been included.
Experts examine the environmental impact of crime
New research indicates that crime committed in 2011 in England and Wales gave rise to more than four million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.
Contact with nature may mean more social cohesion, less crime
In a first-of-its-kind study, an international team tested social correlates of both objective and subjective contact with nature in a systematic way, revealing complex linkages between nature, social cohesion, and a variety of other factors.
Glowing fingerprints to fight crime
An Australian scientist who had his home broken into has developed a new crime scene identification technique to help fingerprint criminals.

Related Crime Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...