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Social Network Correlates of Methamphetamine, Heroin, and Cocaine Use in a Sociometric Network of Homeless Youth
Year Published: 2015
Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Peer influence is one the most consistent correlates of drug use among youth. However, beyond the dyadic level, it is possible that peer influence also functions at a more macro or group level. While extant research among homeless youth indicates that having substance-using peers is associated with one’s own substance use, the question of how peer influence operates in conjunction with network structure and position is relatively unexplored. To explore this issue, these authors recruited a sociometric network of 136 homeless youth at a drop-in agency in Los Angeles. Logistic regressions indicated that youths’ connections to specific substance-using peers and their overall position in the network exposed them to behaviors supportive of specific drugs. Youths’ position in the network exposed them to norms supportive of specific illicit drugs. Findings underscore the importance of tailoring interventions to reduce drug use at the network level, and of recognizing drug use as a social problem as well as an individual problem. Modified Author Abstract.