Exploring the Variation in Drug Selling Among Adolescents in the United States

Jeffrey J. Shook, Michael G. Vaughn, Christopher P. Salas-Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Numerous studies have found that young people who sell drugs are more likely to be involved in risky behaviors than those who do not sell drugs. There has been relatively little research, however, that has explored heterogeneity among young people who sell drugs. Methods: Using a pooled sample of 12 to 17. year olds from the National Study on Drug Use and Health who report past-year drug selling (N. =. 3,080) this study employs latent profile analysis and multinomial logistic regression to specify latent groups and assess the correlates of group membership. Results: Findings indicate substantial differences among young drug dealers. In particular, the analysis found three groups of drug dealers: dabblers, delinquents, and externalizers. These groups significantly differed on demographic, substance use, behavioral, and psychosocial characteristics. Conclusions: Results indicate that the vast majority of dealers use alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Findings also lend support to the idea that person-context intersections are critical for understanding drug selling. Specifically, psychological, family, peer, and economic context are associated with differences among our groups of young drug dealers and interventions need to focus on these factors in seeking to disrupt drug dealing behavior among young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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