This study compares isolated to sociable youth to investigate the relations between different network types of social isolation and alcohol and cigarette use.
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health we developed a network measure that includes various types of social isolation. Types of social isolation were operationalized as socially avoidant, actively isolated, and socially disinterested, with sociable youth as the reference category. Random effects ordinal logit models were fit to estimate the association between different types of social isolation and drunkenness and cigarette use.
Different types of social isolation had varying effects on drunkenness and cigarette use. On the one hand, socially disinterested youth were at an increased risk for drunkenness and cigarette use. On the other hand, socially avoidant youth had lower odds of drunkenness and no significant differences in cigarette use when compared to sociable youth. Actively isolated youth showed no differences in drunkenness and cigarette use.
The role played by marginalized social positions in youth substance use is an important yet overlooked problem. This study can contribute to better targeted and more effective health behavior prevention efforts for vulnerable adolescents.