Exploring pathways to substance use: A longitudinal examination of adolescent sport involvement, aggression, and peer substance use
Abstract The relationship between adolescent sport involvement and later substance use (SU) has been unclear. Understanding the pathways through which sport involvement influences SU may help identify targets for prevention. Using a sample of 535 adolescents from the Michigan Longitudinal Study (MLS; 67.29% male, 78.13% European American), this study prospectively examined whether aggression during late adolescence mediated the association between sport involvement during early adolescence and alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette use during early adulthood. In addition, perceived peer SU during early adolescence was tested as a potential moderator in the association between sport involvement on SU. High sport involvement was associated with more alcohol use. In contrast, the indirect effect of sport involvement on SU via aggression was significant for cigarette use, and marginally significant for marijuana use. Lastly, peer SU was a significant moderator in the cigarette model, indicating low peer SU was somewhat protective among high sport-involved adolescents. Prevention targeting alcohol use and associated consequences, as well as aggressive behaviors may help address future substance use.