Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Social Science Research 42:5 (September 2013), pp. 1297–1310; doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2013.05.001


Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Alcohol use is pervasive in adolescence. Though most research is concerned with how friends influence drinking, alcohol is also important for connecting teens to one another. Prior studies have not distinguished between new friendship creation, and existing friendship durability, however. We argue that accounting for distinctions in creation–durability processes is critical for understanding the selection mechanisms drawing drinkers into homophilous friendships, and the social integration that results. In order to address these issues, we applied stochastic actor based models of network dynamics to National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data. Adolescents only modestly prefer new friendships with others who drinker similarly, but greatly prefer friends who indirectly connect them to homophilous drinkers. These indirect homophilous drinker relationships are shorter lived, however, and suggest that drinking is a social focus that connects adolescents via proximity, rather than assortativity. These findings suggest that drinking leads to more situational and superficial social integration.