Feeding the Habit? Relationships Between Longitudinal Patterns of Drug Dealing and Drug use Trajectories During Adolescence Among Juvenile Offenders

AuthorThomas Wojciechowski
Published date01 December 2021
Date01 December 2021
Subject MatterArticles
Feeding the Habit?
Relationships Between
Longitudinal Patterns of
Drug Dealing and Drug
use Trajectories During
Adolescence Among
Juvenile Offenders
Thomas Wojciechowski
Drug dealers may be at increased risk for drug use. However, there is a
dearth of research focused on how these relationships develop across
time. Group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) was used to assess
heterogeneity in the development of drug dealing behavior. Line graphs
modeling the average frequency of use of drugs across time based on
trajectory membership described drug use patterns. T-tests were used
to test for signicant differences between drug use patterns. Results indi-
cated that a four-group model of drug dealing best t the data. Changes in
each type of drug use corresponded strongly with changes in drug dealing
drug use, drug dealing, group-based trajectory modeling
Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice, East Lansing, MI, USA
Corresponding Author:
Thomas Wojciechowski, Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice,
655 Auditorium Road, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
Email: wojcie42@msu.edu
The Prison Journal
2021, Vol. 101(6) 717741
© 2021 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00328855211060339
Illicit drug abuse is a pervasive public health and criminal justice issue affect-
ing the United States today. In the present day, the country is in the midst of
an opioid epidemic, marijuana legality is a contentious issue between states,
and a surplus of nonviolent drug offenders are currently incarcerated at the
expense of taxpayers (Kuziemko & Levitt, 2004; Petti & Chatlos, 2017;
Skolnick, 2017). Considering these problems and the myriad physical and
mental health issues demonstrated to be associated with chronic illicit drug
use and abuse (Ogeil et al., 2013; Teesson et al., 2014; Volkow et al.,
2014), identifying risk factors that predict long-term patterns of illicit drug
use should be a paramount concern for substance abuse researchers. One
behavior that has been understudied from a developmental perspective and
which may help to better understand longitudinal patterns of illicit drug use
is drug dealing. The present study seeks to examine developmental patterns
of drug dealing behaviors by delineating individual trajectories into develop-
mental subgroups and examine the longitudinal patterns of illicit drug use
during adolescence and early adulthood among a sample of juvenile
Illicit Drug Use During Adolescence and Early
Adolescence is the period of the life course when drug use prevalence is rela-
tively high (Hasin et al., 2015; Schulenberget al., 2014). This evidence is con-
sistent with Moftts (1993) developmental taxonomy of offending, as this
posits that engagement in deviant behavior is transient and isolated mainly to
the adolescent period of the life course for the majority of individuals.
Notably, some life-course persistentoffenders are predicted to continue
engagement in deviancy prior to and in the time following adolescence
(Moftt, 1993).While contemporary research has demonstrated that this taxon-
omy is a bit simplisticcompared to the reality of how numerous deviant behav-
iors develop during the life course (Nelson et al., 2015; Sampson & Laub,
2003), it still provides a useful heuristic for what is to be expected regarding
illicit drug use during the period of interest to this study.
Generally, average levels of substance use would be expected to decline following
adolescence, even among this high-risk population. Past research has indeed indicated
that, while substance use following adolescence may be more prevalent and occur at
elevated frequency among juvenile offenders, deceleration, desistance, and abstinence
following this period of the life course is still much more common
(Wojciechowski, 2017a; Wojciechowski, 2017b). This, however, does not
718 The Prison Journal 101(6)

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