Friendship networks of inner-city adults: a latent class analysis and multi-level regression of supporter types and the association of supporter latent class membership with supporter and recipient drug use

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Mar 1;107(2-3):134-40. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.09.012. Epub 2009 Nov 24.


Background: Social support is a multi-dimensional construct that is important to drug use cessation. The present study identified types of supportive friends among the social network members in a community-based sample and examined the relationship of supporter-type classes with supporter, recipient, and supporter-recipient relationship characteristics. We hypothesized that the most supportive network members and their support recipients would be less likely to be current heroin/cocaine users.

Methods: Participants (n=1453) were recruited from low-income neighborhoods with a high prevalence of drug use. Participants identified their friends via a network inventory, and all nominated friends were included in a latent class analysis and grouped based on their probability of providing seven types of support. These latent classes were included as the dependent variable in a multi-level regression of supporter drug use, recipient drug use, and other characteristics.

Results: The best-fitting latent class model identified five support patterns: friends who provided Little/No Support, Low/Moderate Support, High Support, Socialization Support, and Financial Support. In bivariate models, friends in the High, Low/Moderate, and Financial Support were less likely to use heroin or cocaine and had less conflict with and were more trusted by the support recipient than friends in the Low/No Support class. Individuals with supporters in those same support classes compared to the Low/No Support class were less likely to use heroin or cocaine, or to be homeless or female. Multivariable models suggested similar trends.

Conclusions: Those with current heroin/cocaine use were less likely to provide or receive comprehensive support from friends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Heroin Dependence / epidemiology
  • Heroin Dependence / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Environment
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population* / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult