Who’s got the booze? The role of access to alcohol in the relations between social status and individual use

Arielle R. Deutsch, Douglas Steinley, Kenneth J. Sher, Wendy S. Slutske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The findings of previous research that examined relationships between popularity and alcohol use in adolescents have been mixed, and few hypotheses have proposed mechanisms for this relationship. The current study expands on previous literature (a) by examining a possible mechanism that can explain the relation between popularity and alcohol use (home access to alcohol) and (b) by using another sociometric measure (“betweenness”), beyond popularity, that may relate more to home alcohol access. Method: Using network-level data from adolescents in 9th-11th grades in eight schools within two in-home waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we examined two sociometric measures of social status: popularity (number of schoolmates who nominated participants as a friend) and betweenness (level of ties participants have to multiple social subgroups within a network). Results: Betweenness, but not popularity, related to later alcohol use. Having home access to alcohol positively related to later alcohol use, and having friends with home access to alcohol negatively related to later alcohol use. Alcohol access was also related to later sociometric status. Friends’ alcohol access negatively related to later betweenness, and personal alcohol access moderated other pathways predicting betweenness. Conclusions: Betweenness appears to play a unique role in the association between social status and alcohol use in adolescent social networks. This is potentially tied to specific ways in which adolescents may be able to access alcohol (through home or through friends with access at home). More research is necessary to examine the ways in which multiple sociometric statuses relate to the contexts in which adolescents access and use alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-762
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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