Etiology of early age onset substance use disorder: A maturational perspective
The etiology of early age onset substance use disorder (SUD), an Axis I psychiatric illness, is examined from the perspective of the multifactorial model of complex disorders. Beginning at conception, genetic and environment interactions produce a sequence of biobehavioral phenotypes during development which bias the ontogenetic pathway toward SUD. One pathway to SUD is theorized to emanate from a deviation in somatic and neurological maturation, which, in the context of adverse environments, predisposes to affective and behavioral dysregulation as the cardinal SUD liability-contributing phenotype. Dysregulation progresses via epigenesis from difficult temperament in infancy to conduct problems in childhood to substance use by early adolescence and to severe SUD by young adulthood.
c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Ralph E. Tarter, Ph.D., Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.