Substance Use and Friendship Quality: Examining the Impact of Similar Use Patterns on Friendships.

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While it is commonly understood that the substance use of peers influences an individual's substance use, much less is understood about the interplay between substance use and friendship quality. Using a sample of 2,148 emerging adults nested within 1,074 dyadic friendships, this study separately investigates how concordance and discordance in binge drinking and marijuana use between friends is related to each friend's perceptions of friendship quality. Because “friendship quality” is a complex construct, we employ a measure containing five sub-elements – companionship, a lack of conflict, willingness to help a friend, relationship security, and closeness. Results for both binge drinking and marijuana use reveal that individuals in friendship pairs who are concordant in their substance use perceive significantly higher perceptions of friendship quality than individuals in dyads who are dissimilar in substance use. Specifically, concordant binge drinkers estimate significantly higher levels of companionship, relationship security, and willingness to help their friend than concordant non-users, discordant users, and discordant non-users. However, the highest amount of conflict in friendships is found when both friends engage in binge drinking and marijuana use. Several interpretations of these findings are discussed. Overall, concordance between friends’ binge drinking and marijuana use appears to help some elements of friendship quality and harm others.