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The Dynamic Network and Adolescent Substance Use Project


Studies over the last many decades indicate that social network ties confer both risk and protection for health and health-relevant behavior. While studies have provided keen insights into how social networks relate to health outcomes, more theoretical work is necessary to elucidate how the structure and function of social ties act together to affect health and health-relevant behavior. Building on prior work in this area, this study will examine attributes of social network ties of adolescents and their substance use behaviors, including their use of cigarettes, alcohol, and cannabis and the “interdependent” use of these substances. The study first proposes a theoretical model articulating how structural and positional attributes of adolescent friendship networks affect their substance use behavior via two social processes or mechanisms including emotional support and peer influence. The study also examines the potential moderating role of the strength of network ties, a key dimension of friendship ties, as a theoretical pathway affecting relationships relating networks and substance use. Secondly, this study will undertake a novel approach to simulating adolescent networks forward in time, to observe the effects of perturbations to the composition of the networks, network structural and positional attributes, mechanisms under study, and substance use behaviors, ultimately to inform extant theoretical models of adolescent substance use.

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