Document Type


Date of Original Version



Sociology and Anthropology


Much research on heroin initiation shows that most people use heroin initially with friends or family. However, there is little research examining why those who use heroin would initiate others to its use, and conversely, whether and why one might try to prevent initial heroin use in others. Following recent work on peer influence on crime and delinquency, we test the hypothesis that those with higher levels of self-control are less likely to initiate others to heroin use and are more likely to try to prevent others from using for the first time. The sample included 370 persons entering an opioid withdrawal program. We find that those with low self-control are more likely to initiate others, but there is no relationship between self-control and trying to prevent initiation. We further investigate self-reported motives for initiating others, and find a mix of self-interested and more altruistic motives for initiating others.