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24-03-2016 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 7/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 7/2016

Social Risk Factors of Black and White Adolescents’ Substance Use: The Differential Role of Siblings and Best Friends

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 7/2016
Zachary R. Rowan


Efforts to understand peer influence among adolescents have established the robust relationship between having substance using peers and future substance use. Still, research suggests that peer influence affects different types of adolescents in different ways. Black adolescents may be less susceptible to friends compared to white adolescents and possess stronger family-orientation, suggesting that siblings may affect deviance of Black adolescents whereas friends will have a minimal impact. This study used data from the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to evaluate the relative strength of best friend and siblings’ influence as risk factors for Black and White adolescents’ alcohol and cigarette use. Approximately 182 Black sibling pairs (37 % male) and 657 white sibling pairs (46 % male) that ranged in ages from 11 to 19 were in the longitudinal analyses for the current study. The findings demonstrated that sibling and best friends’ substance use explained white adolescents’ cigarette and alcohol use, whereas Black adolescents’ cigarette and alcohol use was predominantly explained by siblings’ substance use. Ultimately, the results indicated the nuanced role that two types of peers have in explaining variation in substance use across Black and White adolescents.

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