Conceptual and Empirical
Overview of Issues
By what mechanisms do the new freedoms and responsibilities associated with young adulthood contribute to changes in substance use? This issue arose in our earlier book, and it is the driving question in our current effort. Specifically, we want to understand how some values, attitudes, and lifestyle behaviors change with the roles and responsibilities of young adulthood. We also want to understand how these values, attitudes, and behaviors might explain the effects of roles and responsibilities on substance use.
This chapter reviews the literature concerning the ways in which roles and responsibilities during young adulthood relate to substance use. We look at what is currently known regarding the associations between substance use and student status, employment status, marital status, living arrangements, pregnancy, and parenthood. In addition, we examine available evidence regarding how the roles and responsibilities of young adulthood relate to behavioral and lifestyle mediators and how those mediators relate to substance use.
The transition to young adulthood is a time of changing roles, responsibilities, and lifestyles. It is the period in which most individuals move from their par-