Personal Friendship and School Social Network Effects on Adolescents’ Excessive Alcohol Use

Lisa Cubbins, Battelle- Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation
Lucy Jordan, Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation

Alcohol is the top drug of use among American teenagers. As a significant problem in the United States, adolescent alcohol use is linked to poor school performance, depression and other mental health disorders, unprotected sex and unintended teenage pregnancies, accidents, suicide, and adult alcohol abuse. Friends, peers, personal and school social networks influence adolescents’ behaviors independent of the effects of any network member’s individual behaviors, because networks constrain an adolescent’s norms and behaviors to be consistent with those generally held within the friendship network. We use longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to examine the effects of best friend and personal and school social network characteristics on adolescent excessive alcohol use (e.g., frequency of binge drinking, and frequency of drunk days), accounting for ethnic differences, and the ameliorating effects of protective factors, such as parenting and pro-social activities, including school attachment and involvement in school and religious activities.

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Presented in Session 150: Risky Adolescent Behaviors