Social integration, differential association, and youth drug use



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This study attempts to test a paradigm which combines Durkheim's conception of social integration and Sutherland's theory of Differential Association. The thesis is that the initiation of young people into patterns of illegal use of drugs occurs at a time when they are poorly integrated into such formative institutions as the family, school, church, and occupational careers. Combined with this is a primary group structure supportive of involvement with drugs. A four-celled model is presented which depicts various combinations of these two sets of variables and the levels of drug-involvement they predict. This is an adaptation from a model proposed by Richard Stephens. A sample of U.H. students were queried about these social circumstances, and also to describe the extent of their involvement in drugs, if ever. Non-drug users were randomly assigned to recollect their social concerns at differing times in their lives. Factor analysis was utilized to establish the indices which measured the concepts of integration and differential association. Discriminant function analysis was utilized to ascertain their predictive capabilities. Level of church integration and perceptions of the drug-taking behavior of close friends proved to be the measures that most predictably distinguished drug users from non-users. Measures of family integration were not found to be independently predictive of drug use. In this study, we were not able to successfully distinguish users of hard drugs from those who confined their activities to marijuana.



Drug abuse, Social integration