Abstract: An Examination of the Patterns of Substance Use in Activity Spaces and Their Relationship to Problematic Use (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

296P An Examination of the Patterns of Substance Use in Activity Spaces and Their Relationship to Problematic Use

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Jaime Booth, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Zhyldyz Urbaeva, Assistant Professor, University at Albany, Albany, NY
Daejun Park, MSW, Ph.D. Student, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Christina Huerta, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: Adolescent brains develop rapidly, just as they are being exposed to more unsupervised social contexts. The eco-developmental model suggests that activity spaces where adolescents spend time may impact substance-use behaviors beyond peer influences, and that this may differ based on the adolescent’s identity. Despite theoretical arguments that the spaces in which adolescents encounter and use substances my impact substance misuse, few studies have investigated this relationship. This study address this gap by 1) establishing patterns of adolescent substance use across a variety of activity spaces, 2) examining the relationship between these patterns and problematic substance use and 3) assessing if these patterns and relationships differed base on the adolescent’s racial identity.

Methods: This study utilized data collected as part of the Drug Use Among Young American Indians: Epidemiology and Prediction, 1993-2006 and 2009-2013 report. This study consisted of White (N= 9932, 39%), Black (N=826, 3%), and American Indian (N=14457, 57%) adolescents. Substance use in activity spaces was assessed by asking the adolescents how frequently they consumed drugs/alcohol: 1) at parties, 2) at school events, 3) on the way to school, 4) during school hours at school, 5) during school hours away from school, 6) immediately after school, 7) while driving around, 8) at home with parental knowledge, and 9) at home without parental knowledge. Dependent variables included problems attributed to drinking/drug use, frequency of binge drinking, and frequency of marijuana use. To achieve the studies aims, latent profile analysis (LPA) were conducted. To achieve the second aim, OLS regressions were estimated to examine the relationship between patterns of substance use and problematic substance use. To achieve the third aim, multinomial models were estimated to understand racial differences in class membership and interaction terms were entered into the OLS regression model to understand racial differences in the relationship between patterns of use in activity spaces and problematic substance use.

Results: Results of the LPA indicated that a 5-class solution was the best fitting model for patterns of alcohol use and a 6-class solution was the best fit for drug use. There were significant differences in the racial make-up of the typologies. American Indian adolescents were more likely than both White and Black adolescents to be in all classes when compared to abstainers. American Indian adolescents who were heavy users across all contexts and within private spaces were, however, less likely to get drunk or have problems due to alcohol. Black adolescents were disproportionally represented in the group of heavy drinkers in all contexts, and Black adolescent membership in this class reported being drunk significantly more times a month than their White and American Indian counterparts in the same class.

Implications: The eco-developmental model guides social work practice, however, social work research rarely examines the relationship between social contexts and substance use. Addressing the context in which adolescent substance use takes place, its relationship to problematic use, and how behavior in these contexts differ by race may be important to consider when designing prevention interventions that are effective for all youth.