Onset to First Alcohol Use in Early Adolescence: A Network Diffusion Model


  • We thank the students and teachers who participated in the School Social Environments (SSE) study for making this work possible. SSE was supported by award number R01HD052887 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (John M. Light, Principal Investigator). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. We also express our appreciation to Susan Long for assistance with manuscript preparation and editing and to René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. The authors are responsible for any remaining errors.

Requests for reprints should be sent to John M. Light, Oregon Research Institute, 1776 Millrace Drive, Eugene, OR 97403. E-mail: jlight@ori.org


A novel version of Snijders's stochastic actor-based modeling (SABM) framework is applied to model the diffusion of first alcohol use through middle school–wide longitudinal networks of early adolescents, aged approximately 11–14 years. Models couple a standard SABM for friendship network evolution with a proportional hazard model for first alcohol use. Meta-analysis of individual models for 12 schools found significant effects for friendship selection based on the same alcohol use status and for an increased rate of onset to first use based on exposure to already-onset peers. Onset rate was greater at higher grades and among participants who spent more unsupervised time with friends. Neither selection nor exposure effects interacted with grade, adult supervision, or gender.