Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



J Early Adolesc. 2011 June ; 31(3): 415–442.


© The Author(s) 2011. Published by SAGE Publications.


This paper examines a biosocial model of the impact of puberty on Indigenous girls' early-onset substance use by considering the potential mediating role of peer context (i.e. mixed-sex peer groups and substance use prototypes) on the puberty and substance use relationship. Data include responses from 360 girls of a common Indigenous cultural group residing on reservations/reserves in the upper Midwest and Canada. Results of structural equation modeling revealed that the statistically significant relationship between girls' pubertal development and early-onset substance use was mediated by both mixed-sex/romantic peer groups and favorable social definitions of substance use. Implications for substance use prevention work include addressing the multiple and overlapping effects of peer influence from culturally-relevant perspectives.