Psychologist to Discuss Developmental Pathways that Lead to Addiction

By Kathleen Weaver

Release Date: April 7, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Most research on developmental pathways leading to substance use and related disorders focuses on factors related to aggressive, acting-out behaviors in children as early risk factors for alcohol and drug use.

On April 17 at 10 a.m. in the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), 1021 Main St., Andrea Hussong, Ph.D., will discuss her research about another pathway leading to substance use in a presentation titled "Evidence For and Against an Internalizing Pathway to Substance Use Disorders." This pathway concerns children's ability to cope with stress and negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.

"We find that anxiety and depression are more likely to occur as early as age two in children living with alcoholic or problem drinking parents than in their peers," Hussong explained. "In turn, we know that signs of emotional distress in early childhood predict greater risk for substance use in adolescence and young adulthood. My work has been aimed at connecting the dots along this developmental pathway to identify and evaluate whether there is an 'internalizing' pathway to substance use disorders."

Hussong is a professor of clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her current research is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Hussong's presentation will include information about the development of problem behaviors among children of problem drinking parents; adolescents using alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs in response to emotional distress, and her goal to develop an early prevention program from a developmental psychopathology perspective for families of preschool children who live with a problem drinking parent.

Each spring and fall, RIA sponsors guest experts who report on cutting-edge research to a diverse audience of researchers, addiction treatment providers and students. The seminars are free and open to the public and held on Fridays at 10 a.m. in the RIA building at 1021 Main at Goodrich Street on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The Research Institute on Addictions has been a national leader in the study of addictions since 1970 and a research center of the University at Buffalo since 1999.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.