Use of illicit stimulants (particularly methamphetamine) is at an alarmingly high level in certain populations of youth. Illicit stimulants are extremely habit forming and hazardous. Their use often portends an ominous future for youth who have progressed beyond gateway drugs to this hard-drug class. Yet, there is insufficient knowledge about the processes underlying the development of adolescent stimulant use. The proposed research focuses on several of the most promising processes consistently uncovered in multiple independent lines of basic research but not previously applied to adolescent stimulant use. Two sets of processes of focus are: a) spontaneous or implicit cognitive processes, which encode and activate learned associations promoting drug use;and b) protective, specific executive functions that inhibit or at least dampen the effects of such associations on behavior. These processes have been well researched in neuroscience, basic research on memory, and decision theory, and they have been increasingly applied to other drugs of abuse in a host of studies during the past several years. The present project offers a novel line of inquiry that not only studies the main effects of these processes on teenage stimulant use and use trajectories, but tests a new synergistic (interaction) model derived from recent dual-process models that receive converging support from basic research and several studies on other addictive behaviors. In addition to the advance of predictive models of drug abuse, dual-process models can help explain more specific drug patterns, for example: a) Why do some youth progress from gateway illicit drugs (e.g., marijuana) to illicit stimulants, while others from the same at-risk population appear to be protected from this progression? b) What mediates habitual levels of use and strong predictive effects of previous drug habits? c) What processes supported by extensive basic research best predict growth in stimulant use after initial trials? d) Which specific executive functions show the best protective effects on primary drugs of abuse in at-risk adolescents? To address these and other related questions, the project's major study employs a [three-wave], intensive longitudinal design using validated, primarily lab-based assessments across ages during which drug use progression to illicit stimulants is most likely in an at-risk teenage population. Despite this risk, the target population is quite amenable to mobile lab-based, computerized assessment and future intervention, as thoroughly documented in the application. The studied processes are relevant to future interventions, because they are sufficiently specific and have been delineated thoroughly in several independent lines of previous research. Thus, clear implications can emerge from the evaluation of the studied alternative models of teenage stimulant use. The integration of validated lab-based methods and processes into an """"""""indicated"""""""" population study of youth helps the project have potentially substantial implications for innovation in theories of drug use as well as future interventions that could target the studied processes.

Public Health Relevance

Project Narrative: Use of illegal stimulants (particularly methampehtamine) is at an alarmingly high level in certain populations of youth. This project uses theories and validated methods developed in basic research to pinpoint some of the likely causes of use of illegal stimulants and other major drugs of abuse in an at-risk youth population during ages in which onset of stimulant use is most likely. Understanding why certain youth use this drug, while others appear to be """"""""protected"""""""" within the same at-risk population, is critical for determining how best to prevent this highly addictive and hazardous behavior.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
Program Officer
Etz, Kathleen
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Claremont Graduate University
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
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Shono, Yusuke; Edwards, Michael C; Ames, Susan L et al. (2018) Trajectories of cannabis-related associative memory among vulnerable adolescents: Psychometric and longitudinal evaluations. Dev Psychol 54:1148-1158
Shono, Yusuke; Ames, Susan L; Edwards, Michael C et al. (2018) The Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index for Adolescent Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Comprehensive Modern Psychometric Study. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 79:658-663
Nydegger, Liesl A; Ames, Susan L; Stacy, Alan W (2017) Predictive utility and measurement properties of the Strength of Implementation Intentions Scale (SIIS) for condom use. Soc Sci Med 185:102-109
Cappelli, Christopher; Ames, Susan; Shono, Yusuke et al. (2017) Affective decision-making moderates the effects of automatic associations on alcohol use among drug offenders. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 43:534-544
Ames, Susan L; Xie, Bin; Shono, Yusuke et al. (2017) Adolescents at risk for drug abuse: a 3-year dual-process analysis. Addiction 112:852-863
Shono, Yusuke; Ames, Susan L; Stacy, Alan W (2016) Evaluation of internal validity using modern test theory: Application to word association. Psychol Assess 28:194-204
Ames, Susan L; Wurpts, Ingrid C; Pike, James R et al. (2016) Self-regulation interventions to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in adolescents. Appetite 105:652-62
Shono, Yusuke; Grenard, Jerry L; Ames, Susan L et al. (2014) Application of item response theory to tests of substance-related associative memory. Psychol Addict Behav 28:852-62
Ames, Susan L; Grenard, Jerry L; He, Qinghua et al. (2014) Functional imaging of an alcohol-Implicit Association Test (IAT). Addict Biol 19:467-81
Basáñez, Tatiana; Dennis, Jessica M; Crano, William et al. (2014) Measuring Acculturation Gap Conflicts among Hispanics: Implications for Psychosocial and Academic Adjustment. J Fam Issues 35:1727-1753

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