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Demographic differenced in perceived social norms of drug and alcohol use among Hispanic/Latinx and non-Hispanic white college students

Understanding social norms of drug and alcohol use can help prevent problematic alcohol use among college students. A recent study aimed to look at how social norms may be related to college stimulant, opioid, and cannabis use and how these relationships differ by gender and race/ethnicity.

This study included 1045 undergraduate participants who completed online surveys including their personal and peer perceptions of substance use, as well as their personal race/ethnicity and gender. The data were analyzed and compared general peer perceptions and close friend perceptions.

The results of this study indicate that higher perceived peer substance use was associated with higher levels of use for alcohol and cannabis specifically. Higher perception of close friend use of stimulants was associated with greater personal use, although this relationship was not seen with perception of use of peers who were acquaintances. No association was found between perceptions of opioid use and personal opioid use. There were differences in genders, as men experienced more personal use of cannabis if they perceived higher peer use, whereas this was seen with stimulants for women. Hispanic/Latinx students had a strong association between perceived peer cannabis use and personal cannabis use. Overall, the data suggested stronger positive associations with peer use and personal use of substances in men and Hispanic/Latinx students.

Take Away:  Perceptions of peer substance use impact personal substance use among college students. This trend is most prominent in men and Latinx/Hispanic undergraduate students.

Edwards, K.A., Witkiewitz, K., Vowles, K.E. (2019). Demographic differences in perceived social norms of drug and alcohol use among Hispanic/Latinx and non-Hispanic White college students. Addictive Behaviors. doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106060

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