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The Role Of Family And Peer Relationships In Adolescent Substance Use.

T. Wills, J. Mariani, Marnie Filer
Published 1996 · Psychology

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This chapter considers how family and peer relationships, respectively, act to decrease or increase adolescents’ likelihood of involvement in substance use. The qualifying word “respectively” indicates that these two types of relationships may serve different roles for adolescents. Support from parents typically is indicated as a protective factor, inversely related to level of adolescent substance use. In contrast, support from peers under some conditions is positively related to substance use. The contrast between results for the parental and peer support systems indicates the theoretical complexity of considering how social networks operate for substance use in general and adolescent substance use in particular (Wills, 1990a) and has implications for the understanding of resilience effects (Haggerty, Sherrod, Garmezy, & Rutter, 1994; Wills, Blechman, & McNamara, 1996). In this chapter, we develop a framework for considering how parental and peer support operate in adolescence, report findings from our research program with adolescents, and discuss implications for the theory of social support. A specific emphasis derived from this research is that parental support has a powerful impact on adolescents’ coping, competence, and self-control ability. We try in this chapter to elucidate the question of why parental support is so important. We also make the point that a problem behavior such as early substance use is best predicted from the interaction of parent and peer support systems and that adolescents seem to be particularly vulnerable when they have a low level of parental support but are strongly immersed in peer social activity.



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