During adolescence, as children begin to transition into adults, many physical and mental changes occur which bring with them a desire for experimentation. Thus, many adolescents begin to partake in substance use, in alignment with the views and beliefs of their peers and neighborhoods. In the United States, the most popular substances for adolescent use are alcohol and marijuana, which teenagers continue to indulge in at alarming numbers, despite either significant or relative decreases over the years, and has been brought on by exposure to certain risk factors. The goal of this study was to determine which factors create the greatest likelihood for adolescent alcohol and marijuana use, and if certain influential relationships, such as gang membership and other peer relationships, mediate the effects of disadvantaged neighborhoods. Additionally, an attempt was made to determine if the immediate surroundings and relationships of adolescents work in a complementary fashion to influence one another. In the study, it was found that a socially disorganized neighborhood contributes, along with parental relations, to the selections an adolescent makes in choosing peers. It was also found that poor peer selection can lead to gang membership which would consequently increase the chances of alcohol and marijuana use. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth of 1997 focusing on gangs and neighborhoods as influences to adolescent alcohol and marijuana use, it was discovered that various gang categories and having peers who use alcohol or marijuana correlated with increased adolescent alcohol and marijuana use. The explanation for these categories having such a significant impact on increased levels of adolescent substance use can be attributed to the impressionability and malleability of this transitioning age group, in an attempt to fit in with the peers they have chosen to associate with and a desire to indulge in new experiences.
|Advisor:||Stearns, Ami E.|
|Commitee:||Jeanis, Michelle N., Khey, David N.|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||MAI 58/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Adolescence, Drug use, Gangs, Influence, Neighborhood, Peer groups|
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