Alcohol and tobacco use commonly co-occur in adolescents. According to the cross-substance facilitation of information processing hypothesis, cognitive structures related to one substance increase use of another related substance through enhanced cognitive processing. In this study, the authors test this hypothesis by determining whether a problem drinker "possible self" in 8th grade predicts alcohol and tobacco use in 9th grade. Methods: A secondary data analysis of a 12-month longitudinal dataset was conducted. The outcome variables were alcohol consumption, alcohol problems, and tobacco use in 9th grade. The main predictor of interest was presence of an expected problem drinker possible self in 8th grade. Zero-inflated gamma regression, zero-inflated negative binomial regression, and logistic regression were used. Results: Among 137 adolescents, controlling for known family, parent, and peer determinants, and corresponding 8th grade behavior, having an expected problem drinker possible self in 8th grade predicted alcohol problems, but not level of alcohol consumption in 9th grade. Moreover, the expected problem drinker possible self in 8th grade predicted tobacco use in 9th grade, controlling for known determinants and concurrent alcohol problems. Conclusions: Findings provide support for the cross-substance facilitation hypothesis, suggesting that interventions designed to modify the expected problem drinker possible self may reduce not only adolescent alcohol use but also tobacco use. Further studies are needed to determine whether smoking content is embedded in a drinking cognition or 2 separate but related drinking and smoking cognitions account for the association between alcohol and tobacco use.
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