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Latent Pathways to Adulthood and their Associations with Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana Abuse and Dependence

Moving into adulthood is associated with the adoption of new roles and statuses. Completing school, moving into full-time employment, getting married, and becoming a parent are key transitions in young adulthood. Young people differ in the sequencing, timing, and completion of these transitions, resulting in different configurations of roles. Over time, these configurations form distinct pathways. It is difficult to analyze pathways in their complex developmental nature and take into account that transitions in different domains are interdependent across time. Using a longitudinal extension of latent class analysis we analyzed configurations of statuses and adult roles (including student status, employment, marriage, and parenthood) from ages 18 to 30 in a panel of 808 contemporary young adults from the Seattle Social Development Project. Results suggest that three latent pathways describe the transition to adulthood for both men and women but that the nature of these pathways differed by gender. Furthermore, little is known about the implications of different pathways to adulthood for later adult functioning. If pathways to adulthood are uniquely related to later adult functioning, including substance abuse and dependence, they may represent new foci for prevention. This presentation shows how latent pathways can be linked to distal outcomes to examine whether pathways to adulthood have unique implications for adult alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana abuse and dependence above and beyond substance use in adolescence.