The Role of Peers in Teenagers’ Substance Use

  • Deirdre M. Kirke


Previous research has consistently confirmed that their peers are a major source of influence on the substance use of teenagers. Some of the earlier work confirmed an association between teenagers’ substance use and the perceived, or self-reported, substance use of their peers. These researchers were usually drawing on dyadic or peer group data. More recent research, with a social network analysis focus, has drawn on data on small cliques to examine the importance of the social position of teenagers in their substance use. Researchers have been in general agreement in recent times that the process of teenagers and their peers becoming similar in their substance use is explained by peer influence or selection, and not by peer influence alone. Thus, some teenagers are influenced by their peers to become similar to them in their substance use, while other teenagers select as peers individuals who are already using the same substances as they are. Recent researchers have been frustrated at the difficulty of adequately examining the relative impact of peer influence and selection using small clique data and they have pointed to the need for complete network data to examine this question adequately (Ennett and Bauman, 1993: 234; Haynie, 2001: 1023).


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Copyright information

© Deirdre M. Kirke 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deirdre M. Kirke
    • 1
  1. 1.National University of IrelandMaynoothIreland

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