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Perceived Substance Use Norms Among Jailed Women with Alcohol Use Disorders.

Timko C, Chatav Schonbrun Y, Anderson B, Johnson JE, Stein M. Perceived Substance Use Norms Among Jailed Women with Alcohol Use Disorders. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. 2020 Sep 2; 44(9):1834-1841.

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BACKGROUND: Social norms regarding substance use predict substance use behaviors. In a sample of jailed women with alcohol use disorders (AUDs), we compared (i) jailed women's perceptions of the US women population's rates of substance use, with US women's actual rates of substance use; (ii) jailed women's perceived rates of substance use by US women, with their perceptions of use by their own friends; and (iii) US women's actual rates of substance use, with observed sample substance use rates. METHODS: Participants were 205 jailed women who met criteria for an AUD. We used the 1-sample or dependent-samples t-test to make the comparisons. RESULTS: Participants overestimated US women's rates of substance use and incarceration rates. They perceived their friends' substance use as less common than US women's. The jailed women reported higher rates of their own substance use than actual rates by US women. In addition, jailed women self-reported less cannabis use, but more alcohol and cocaine use and cigarette smoking, than they perceived their friends to have used. The more women perceived their friends as drinking, the less they had a goal to drink less or abstain from drinking postincarceration; in contrast, perceptions of US women's drinking were not related to personal goals for drinking. CONCLUSIONS: Interventions that correct misperceptions about substance use norms may have utility for jailed women with AUDs.

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