Link Discovered Between Popularity and Substance Abuse

Link Discovered Between Popularity and Substance Abuse

A new study has found a distinct link between popularity and substance abuse. Researchers from the Université de Montréal found that the more popular a child and their friends were, the greater their alcohol and drug consumption was.

Jean-Sébastien Fallu, lead researcher of the study and professor at the Université de Montréal’s School of Psychoeducation, said that the teenagers they studied were sensitive to social codes, well accepted by their peers, and understood the compromises of being popular.

The researchers examined more than 500 French-speaking students at different times in their lives: at ages 10 to 11, 12 to 13, and 14 to 15. The researchers considered the popularity of the child and their friends and tracked their use of alcohol, marijuana, and hard drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

They found that as the child got older consumption increased, regardless of popularity level. But the more popular the child, the more they used alcohol and drugs. Kids with very popular friends were two times more likely to abuse substances between ages 10 and 15, whereas kids whose friends were not as popular didn’t see an increase in consumption.

The study also suggests that kids are more at risk if they have popular friends. Fallu said that many teens use substances to maintain their popularity level and status. While those who aren’t considered popular are also at risk of substance abuse, other studies have shown that they are more prone to violent behavior than substance abuse.

Source: Science Daily, The Price of Popularity: Drug and Alcohol Consumption, September 28, 2010

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