Sensation seeking, puberty, and nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana use in adolescence

Catherine A. Martin, Thomas H. Kelly, Mary Kay Rayens, Bethanie R. Brogli, Allen Brenzel, W. Jackson Smith, Hatim A. Omar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

296 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relationship among nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana use; level of sensation seeking (SS); and pubertal development. Method: Subjects were early and middle adolescent males and females recruited from a psychiatric clinic (n = 77) and two general pediatric clinics (n = 131). SS was measured by using the Sensation Seeking Scale for Children. Pubertal development was measured with a modified Pubertal Development Scale that was completed by the adolescent and his/her parent about the adolescent. Adolescent self-reports of nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana use were also obtained using questionnaires. Results: SS was higher in males and females who reported nicotine and alcohol use and in males who reported marijuana use. SS was positively associated with pubertal development in males and females, even when controlling for age. Furthermore, SS mediated the relationship of pubertal development and drug use in males and females. Conclusions: The observation that SS mediates the relationship between pubertal development and drug use in males and females may contribute to understanding changes in drug use that are seen during adolescence. In addition, SS is associated with drug use and is easily measured in a variety of clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1502
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by NIDA grants K08 DA00333 and DA 05312 and University of Kentucky Medical Center Research Fund grant 952 .


  • Alcohol use
  • Nicotine use
  • Puberty
  • Sensation seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Sensation seeking, puberty, and nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana use in adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this