Cheng Wang1 *, John R. Hipp2,3, Carter T. Butts3,4, Cynthia M. Lakon5 1 Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, United States of America, 2 Department of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States of America, 3 Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States of America, 4 Department of Statistics, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States of America, 5 Program in Public Health, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States of America

Abstract: The concurrent or sequential usage of multiple substances during adolescence is a serious public health problem. Given the importance of understanding interdependence in substance use during adolescence, the purpose of this study is to examine the co-evolution of cigarette smoking, alcohol, and marijuana use within the ever-changing landscape of adolescent friendship networks, which are a primary socialization context for adolescent substance use. Utilizing Stochastic Actor-Based models, we examine how multiple simultaneous social processes co-evolve with adolescent smoking, drinking, and marijuana use within adolescent friendship networks using two school samples from early waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). We also estimate two separate models examining the effects from using one substance to the initiation and cessation of other substances for each sample. 

Based on the initial model results, we simulate the model forward in time by turning off one key effect in the estimated model at a time, and observe how the distribution of use of each substance changes. We find evidence of a unilateral causal relationship from marijuana use to subsequent smoking and drinking behaviors, resulting in the initiation of drinking behavior. 

Marijuana use is also associated with smoking initiation in a school with a low substance use level, and smoking cessation in a school with a high substance use level. In addition, in a simulation model excluding the effect from marijuana use to smoking and drinking behavior, the number of smokers and drinkers decreases precipitously. Overall, our findings indicate some evidence of sequential drug use, as marijuana use increased subsequent smoking and drinking behavior and indicate that an adolescent’s level of marijuana use affects the initiation and continuation of smoking and drinking

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