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Substance Use Correlated with Social Media in Tribal India

Published on Sat May 13 2023 by Dustin Van Tate Testa article cover photo Smoking break. Amber, India | Luisen Rodrigo on flickr

New research conducted in the North-East Indian state of Tripura has uncovered a concerning correlation between social networks and substance use among male tribal adolescents. The study found that the prevalence of substance use among these adolescents is higher than the national average in India. The researchers aimed to investigate the association between social network measures and substance use in this population.

The study analyzed data from a survey of 12-19-year-old tribal adolescents from selected schools in the West district of Tripura. Out of the 340 participants, approximately 27.65% reported smoking, 26.18% reported using smokeless tobacco, and 30.59% reported drinking alcohol. Additionally, 35.29% reported using at least one of these substances.

The results revealed a strong correlation between the substance use status of an adolescent's social network members and the adolescent's own substance use. The odds of substance consumption were significantly higher among adolescents who had friends who smoked, friends who encouraged smoking, and friends who associated smoking with masculinity. Furthermore, adolescents were more likely to smoke if a family member also used substances, and if they spent time with friends who engaged in substance use.

These findings highlight the influential role of social networks in shaping adolescents' substance use habits. The study emphasizes the importance of targeted interventions to address substance use among adolescents and to provide support for those who belong to close social networks. By understanding these social dynamics, policymakers, educators, and healthcare professionals can develop effective strategies to prevent substance use and promote healthier behaviors among this vulnerable population.

The implications of this research extend beyond the specific context of Tripura and have broader implications for understanding and addressing substance use among adolescents worldwide. By recognizing the power of social networks in shaping behaviors, interventions can be tailored to target the social influences that contribute to substance use, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for adolescents and their communities.


Written by Borak, B., Srivastava, A., Saikia, N.

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