"With the 18-29 age group we may be spending unnecessary effort working a peer pressure angle in prevention and intervention efforts. That does not appear to be an issue for this age group," said study co-author Brian Kelly, a professor of sociology and anthropology who studies drug use and youth cultures. "Rather, we found more subtle components of the peer context as influential. These include peer drug associations, peers as points of drug access, and the motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have pleasant times with friends."
The research will be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association by study co-author Alexandra Marin, a sociology doctoral student at Purdue.
"People normally think about peer pressure in that peers directly and actively pressure an individual to do what they are doing," said Kelly, who also is director of Purdue's Center for Research on Young People's Health. "This study looks at that form of direct social pressure as well as more indirect forms of social pressure. We find that friends are not actively pressuring them, but it's a desire to have a good time alongside friends that matters."
Researchers looked at the role of peer factors on three prescription drug misuse outcomes:
- The frequency of misuse.
- Administering drugs in ways other than swallowing.
- Symptoms of dependency on prescription drugs.
"We found that peer drug associations are positively associated with all three outcomes," Kelly said. "If there are high perceived social benefits or low perceived social consequences within the peer network, they are more likely to lead to a greater frequency of misuse, as well as a greater use of non-oral methods of administration and a greater likelihood of displaying symptoms of dependence. The motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have a good time with friends is also associated with all three outcomes. The number of sources of drugs in their peer group also matters, which is notable since sharing prescription drugs is common among these young adults."
Source: Science Daily