The Relative Influence of Injunctive and Descriptive Social Norms on Methamphetamine, Heroin, and Injection Drug Use Among Homeless Youths: The Impact of Different Referent Groups.

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Graduate School of Social Work


The current study assessed the relative influence of both injunctive and descriptive norms in the context of different referent groups (i.e., family, street peers, home-based peers, and staff members) on past 30-day methamphetamine, heroin, and injection drug use behaviors of homeless youth. Cross-sectional data (N = 911) were collected from three drop-in centers in Los Angeles, California. The study consisted of two parts: a social network interview and a computerized self-administered survey. Multivariate logistic regression models examined the association of objection to drug use from referent groups (injunctive norms; that is, street-based peers, home-based peers, relatives, staff members) and drug use of referent groups (descriptive norms) with youths’ substance use behaviors. Multivariate results indicated that the role of injunctive and descriptive norms varied across the three substance use behaviors and by referent group. Findings indicate the need to carefully consider the diversity of homeless youths’ networks in designing substance use interventions.

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