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Impact of Peer Habits and Sleep Problems on Drug Use

Chahdael B. Smith
Ohio Northern University

Previous research has shown that insufficient sleep and peer use of illicit drugs have a negative linear effect on adolescents’ substance abuse.  Sleep times ≤ 7 hours and peer use have been associated with marijuana use.  The current study aims to examine the link between nightmares/trouble sleeping and peer use of illicit drugs among adolescents referred to a county court for behavioral or legal problems.  We hypothesized peer use of illicit drugs and participant report of nightmares and trouble sleeping would both be related to reports of frequent drug use.  Methods:  Participants included 66 adolescents aged 14-18.  Data was from a secondary data source.  The questions “Have you had nightmares/trouble sleeping in the past year (yes/no) and “Have your peers used drugs in the past 90 days” (yes/no), were treated as independent variables and a scale measuring substance problems in the last month as the dependent variable.  Data was analyzed using an ANOVA and Bonferroni’s post hoc test.  Results:  Participants reporting trouble sleeping and nightmares were more likely than those without sleeping difficulty to have a substance problem during the last 30 days (M=4.13, SD=.51) [F(1,62)=12.58, p<0.05, d=1.25].  Peer use was also independently related to higher levels of substance problems (M=4.44, SD=.56) [F)1,62)=19.28, p<0.05, d=1.32].  Moreover, an intersection was found between peer use and trouble sleeping/nightmares, showing that those with sleep issues and with peers who used illicit drugs were more likely to have a substance problem in the last month (M=6.69, SD=.72)[F(1,62)=6.77,p<0.05,d=1.65].  Conclusion:  Adolescents with sleeping difficulty as well as peers who used drugs independently influence substance problems, though peer influence on drug use is well researched.  The current results suggest the importance of monitoring sleep troubles, particularly among at-risk youth, as this might be an indicator of or impetus for drug use or relapse.