Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-30-2018


Recreational opioid use among college students has increased steadily over the past decade, and has been shown to be influenced by social pressures. Social norm informed interventions have been used to help correct student misperceptions of peer substance use and curb personal substance use, however most of this research has been centered on alcohol use. This study examined the role of descriptive social norms of two peer reference groups (close friend and acquaintance) at two time periods (30 days and 12 months) in a number of different substances, including opioids, alcohol, marijuana, stimulants, sedatives, and psychedelics in a diverse sample of undergraduate college students at the University of New Mexico. In addition, differences in perceptions of peer opioid use was examined between recreational opioid users and non-users. Results indicated that descriptive close friend norms predicted personal substance use across all substances at both time points, and descriptive acquaintance norms predicted personal substance use for all substances, except opioids, at both time points. In addition, those who used opioids recreationally perceived their close friends and acquaintances to use more opioids in the past 30 days, however no differences emerged within the past 12 months. This study provides preliminary support for the effectiveness of social norm informed interventions to help curb growing recreational opioid use among college students.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Kevin Vowles, PhD

Second Committee Member

Katie Witkiewitz, PhD

Third Committee Member

Kamilla Venner, PhD




Social norms, opioid use, college students, undergraduate, substance use, descriptive social norms, perceptions of peer use

Document Type


Included in

Psychology Commons