Peer Pressures and Substance Abuse

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Social Factors that Influence Adolescence Substance Use
Cassie Boyd

In society, there are different factors that have different impacts on adolescents and substance use. Some of the factors have to do with biological factors such as gender and ethnicity and the types of impacts this has on societal expectations for them. The other influences are more based on relationships that an adolescent has, such as the relationship with friends and parents. There are also many internal struggle a child has in becoming a part of a group that will cause them to do things that they may not believe is right.

When it comes to social influence on substance use, there are many types of factors that people assume are the factors and what actually does. We know that peer pressure is such a crucial reason as to why adolescents begin to participate in things such as drugs and alcohol. Just how much to the extent is pressure from parents going to influence a child? It turns out that they have the opposite effect of what you think that it would have. There are factors such as gender and ethnicity that also plays their parts in who is more likely to begin substance use. What factors help a child stand up to peer pressure and go against conformity? A lot of these variables go along with the pressures of being in a group. Adolescents want to be in groups with a higher social status then everyone else. Popularity plays a big key factor in a way that if a child is more popular or is striving to be popular, they are at a high risk of substance use. As a society it is important to protect our youth, so that makes knowing the factors that going into substance important. Gender

Which gender is more likely to conform to drinking and using alcohol? We see that adolescent boys are more likely to be seen talked into substance use. This is not to say that adolescent girls are not using drugs and drinking, or even less pressured, but it is just saying that boys are just more likely to peer conform than girls. The rate at which girls use increase with age when they are more influenced by their significant others (Brady & Randall, 1999). Girls are also more likely to begin using drugs and drinking later in life because they are more at risk of depression and anxiety. These disorders are gateways into substance use as they put the mind at ease. With these variables affecting women, why is it that we don’t see more girls with substance use? We find that women actual experience more social disproval than men for using drugs in adolescence. In girls who are in their early teens, we see that girls who hit puberty early are rejected by their peers and so they are more likely to resort to substance use to overcome their insecurities (Patton, McMorris, & Hemphill, 2004). A study done showed that men have a higher level of aggression than women do. This is important because the higher the level of aggression correlated with a higher chance of that individual drinking or using drugs (Flannery, 1994). Ethnicity

When it comes to race, different social relationships influence whether a person is likely to substance use or not. Caucasians are the most likely to be influenced by their peers. Asians and African Americans are more likely to use just for themselves. African Americans are also rated the highest in being influenced by the adults that use in their life (Newcomb & Bentler, 1986). All ethnicities seemed to say that drinking and marijuana use is highly influenced by peer pressure as compared to how much pressure they feel by adults. Daniel Flannery (1994) did a study comparing Hispanic and Caucasian children in 6th and 7th grade. This study showed that there was no difference between their race and substance abuse. For the most part they were equal and the variable that really mattered was how much interaction with their peers they had (Flannery, 1994). In most cases, you can predict that no matter what ethnicity a child...
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