Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

136P Binge Drinking Trajectories From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: The Effects of Peer Social Networks

Saturday, January 14, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Hyeouk Chris Hahm, PhD, Assistant Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Eric Kolaczyk, PhD, Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Jisun Jang, MA, Research Assistant, Boston University, Boston, MA
Theadora Teddy Swenson, Student, Boston University, Peoria, AZ
Asma M. Bhindarwala, Student, Boston University, Westford, MA
Background and purpose: The crucial time for onset of alcohol use and development of alcohol dependence is between adolescence and young adulthood. Peer social networks have been acknowledged as important factors for drinking opportunities. However, little is known about whether peer social networks during earlier adolescence can predict patterns of binge drinking behavior into young adulthood. In addition, few studies have used comprehensive summaries of peer social network measures. Specifically, having an alcohol using peer has been extensively studied for predicting drinking behaviors; however, the impact of social integration, prestige, or cohesion on binge drinking pattern overtime have not been well investigated. This study aims to provide insights regarding how important peer social network variables during adolescence predict binge drinking over time.

Methods: Data were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). A total 7966 individuals took in-school questionnaires (1994-1995), Wave 1 (1995), Wave 2 (1996), and Wave 3 (2001) were used as study samples. A collection of five peer social network variables between 1994-1995 were used. Social integration was measured using the number of friends outside of school and grade heterogeneity. Prestige was measured using Bonacich centrality and cohesion was measured using ego-centric density. Socialization with alcohol using peers was also examined as one of the peer social network variables. A marginal model, using Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE), was used to estimate the longitudinal effect of social networks in adolescence on binge drinking, both in terms of early onset and later use over time, controlling for demographic variables.

Results: Overall, peer social networks were important predictors for the early onset or later binge drinking outcomes over time. However, the effects and nature of binge drinking differed by the nature of social network. Specifically, higher prestige was not associated with early onset of binge drinking, but over time it had a significant impact on the growing use of binge drinking. In contrast, lower levels of social integration within the school and the same grades during adolescence were associated with early onset of binge drinking; however, this effect of social integration did not last over time. Most important of all, having an alcohol using peer was found to have the greatest impact on the early onset of binge drinking (odds ratio: 10). The impact of having an alcohol using peer in adolescence on binge drinking gradually decreased over time, but it still was significantly associated with later binge drinking.

Conclusions: Peer social networks during adolescence can predict later binge drinking during young adulthood. Our data suggest that individuals who had an alcohol using peer during adolescence are consistently vulnerable to binge drinking over time. The new perspectives gained from investigating the longitudinal impact of peer social networks on binge drinking may suggest potential approaches to binge drinking interventions.