We utilized a longitudinal twin study (N = 2,510) to identify the child characteristics present prior to initiation of substance use that best predicted later substance use disorders. Two independent traits accounted for the majority of premorbid risk: socialization (conformity to rules and conventional values) and boldness (sociability and social assurance, stress resilience, and thrill seeking). Low socialization was associated with disruptive behavior disorders, parental externalizing disorders, and environmental adversity and exhibited moderate genetic (0.45) and shared environmental influences (0.30). Boldness was highly heritable (0.71) and associated with less internalizing distress and environmental adversity. In combination, these traits exhibited robust associations with adolescent and young adult substance use disorders (R =.48 and.50, respectively) and incremental prediction over disruptive behavior disorders, parental externalizing disorders, and environmental adversity. The results were replicated in an independent sample. Socialization and boldness offer a novel conceptualization of underlying risk for substance use disorders that has the potential to improve prediction and theory with implications for basic research, prevention, and intervention.