Voelcker Academy

Research Symposium 2012

 

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Sergio T. Arambula

Drug Use in Adolescents

Sergio T. Arambula

Mentor(s): Charles W. Mathias PhD

  • Adolescence is a unique developmental period, in terms of social, cognitive, and biological changes. This period is also characterized by onset of some behavioral health problems for some adolescents
  • Suicidal behavior (both attempts and as a cause of death) are most prevalent between the ages of 15 and 24 years of age. Suicide is 3rd leading cause of death in this age range and about 8% of adolescents attempt suicide
  • Drug use also typically first emerges during adolescence; 21%of teens reporting using illicit drugs often and about 5% have a drug use diagnoses

Purpose: To examine the inter-relationships among impulsivity, 5-HT, stressful life events, and the dual outcomes of drug use and different types of suicidality in high-risk adolescents.

Hypotheses:

  • Past histories of suicidal behaviors and drug use will be related to more impulsivity and disruption of serotonin function at the start of the study
  • More impulsivity and disruption of serotonin function at the start of the study will predict increases in suicidal behaviors and drug use across adolescence
  • Inter-relationships between clinical, behavioral, and biological factors will be tested in the context of the Stress-Diathesis model of suicide