Illicit Drug Use in One's Social Network and in One's Neighborhood Predicts Individual Heroin and Cocaine Use

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.
Annals of Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 2). 09/2001; 11(6):389-94. DOI: 10.1016/S1047-2797(01)00225-3
Source: PubMed


The nature of competing social environmental factors' influence on substance abuse is unclear. A longitudinal study was undertaken to determine the relative power of social network and neighborhood characteristics to predict continuing illicit drug use.
Three hundred forty-two inner-city adults with a history of injection drug use were followed for 1 year; their heroin and cocaine use were assessed semiannually. Multiple logistic regression models were fit to determine the degree to which social network and neighborhood characteristics, assessed at baseline, predicted continuing heroin and/or cocaine use throughout the study period.
Two hundred thirty-six (69%) participants reported continuing heroin and/or cocaine use. Drug use by members of the social network was a stronger predictor of participants' continuing drug use (OR = 4.31, 95% CI 2.51 to 7.40) than was a high level of drug-related arrests in the participant's neighborhood (OR = 2.41, 95% CI 1.24 to 4.71), after adjusting for drug treatment and demographic variables. Both seemed to have independent effects on study participants' drug use.
These findings reiterate the importance of breaking ties with drug-using associates, even for those who reside in high-risk environments. Further work is needed to develop interventions that increase drug users' success in altering social network composition or also treat drug-using network members.

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    • "Networks are a primary mechanism that links individual behaviors and health outcomes to larger social structures and forces (Berkman, Glass, Brissette, & Seeman, 2000; Pescosolido, 2006). Considerable evidence connects social networks and relationships with the likelihood of initiating and continuing patterns of problem drug use (Schroeder et al., 2001), the likelihood of seeking treatment, and the effectiveness of treatment. Relapse into substance abuse correlates with social factors such as poor housing status, limited social support, and lack of drug treatment (Mayer et al., 1993). "
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    Qualitative Health Research 09/2014; 25(2). DOI:10.1177/1049732314552454 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    • "Opioid-dependent patients receiving methadone often spend much of their time in social environments that support and directly reinforce drug use and behaviors that convey considerable risk of harm to self and others [6-9]. Patients are routinely advised to abandon their drug-using supports without having meaningful alternative social networks in place, and this typically results in the individual remaining entrenched in existing social networks. "
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    Trials 08/2013; 14(1):264. DOI:10.1186/1745-6215-14-264 · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    • "Analyses of administrative data that examined racial differences between older African American and White methadone clients revealed that African American clients were older and less likely to be employed or to be receiving public assistance than White clients (Rosen, 2004). These results, along with research on the reasons African Americans abused drugs (Roberts, 2000; Schroeder et al., 2001), influenced the decision to focus the current study on the lives of older-adult African American methadone maintenance clients. Disparities in access to proper treatment for substance abuse treatment has been related to higher rates of substance-related mortality for older adults in methadone maintenance treatment (Clausen, Waal, Thoresen, & Gossop, 2009). "
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