Family and Peer Influences on Substance Attitudes and Use among Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth

Abstract

Juvenile justice-involved youth experience high rates of substance use, which is concerning given associated negative consequences, including health and functional deficits. Family and peer factors are associated with a high risk of substance use among justice-involved youth. It is hypothesized that this risk process operates through pro-drug attitudes. However, limited research has been conducted on the mechanisms through which family and peer factors increase risk for substance use among juvenile justice involved youth. The current study examined both the direct and indirect effects of family and peer substance use on youth’s substance use (alcohol and illicit drug use). We also examined whether this relationship differs by race. Two hundred twenty six detained youth (81.9% male; 74.3% Black) were recruited from an urban county in the Midwest and completed a clinical interview and substance use assessment battery. A direct effect of family/peer risk on illicit drug use was found for all youth, though the effect was stronger among White youth. Results also supported the indirect effect pathway from family/peer risk to both illicit drug use and alcohol use through pro-drug attitudes. This pathway did not vary by race. These findings suggest that interventions should focus on targeting both family/peer risk and pro-drug attitudes to reduce substance use. Given the racial difference in the direct effect of family/peer risk on illicit drug use, there may be other factors that influence risk more strongly for White youth, which warrants further investigation.

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Author Contributions

T.C.B.Z.: designed and executed the study, assisted in the data analytic plan, and wrote the paper. R.L.C.: collaborated with the design and writing of the paper. D.E.B.: assisted with data collection, analyzed the data and writing of the paper. A.H.: assisted with data collection, collaborated in the design and writing of the paper. M.A.: designed the original data collection, collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.

Funding

Work was supported by NIH award KL2TR001106, K01DA043654, R25DA035163, P30DA027827, F31AA024682, and F31DA044728.

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Correspondence to Tamika C. B. Zapolski.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Indiana University—Purdue University, Indianapolis provided IRB approval for this study.

Informed Consent

Assent for clinical assessments was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Participants were wards of the local justice system at the time of the assessment and that justice system provided consent for the clinical assessment from which data was drawn for the current study.

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Zapolski, T.C.B., Clifton, R.L., Banks, D.E. et al. Family and Peer Influences on Substance Attitudes and Use among Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth. J Child Fam Stud 28, 447–456 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1268-0

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Keywords

  • Family
  • Peer
  • Substance use
  • Attitudes
  • Juvenile justice