Social-ecological influences on patterns of substance use among non-metropolitan high school students

Christian M. Connell, Tamika D. Gilreath, Will M. Aklin, Robert A. Brex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Patterns of substance use are examined in a sample of over 1,200 youth in a non-metropolitan region of New England. Self-reported history and frequency of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, pain medications, and other hard drug use was assessed for 9th and 10th grade students. Latent class analyses identified four patterns of substance use: non-users (22%), alcohol experimenters (38%), occasional polysubstance users (29%), and frequent polysubstance users (10%). Contextual risk and protective factors in the individual, family, peer, and community domains predicted substance use patterns. Youth report of peer substance use had the largest effects on substance use class membership. Other individual characteristics (e.g., gender, antisocial behavior, academic performance, perceived harm from use), family characteristics (e.g., parental drinking, parental disapproval of youth use), and community characteristics (e.g., availability of substances) demonstrated consistent effects on substance use classes. Implications for prevention are discussed from a social-ecological perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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