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Relation of Supervisor Social Control to Employee Substance Use: Considering the Dimensionality of Social Control, Temporal Context of Substance Use, and Substance Legality
Michael R. Frone, Jonathan R. Trinidad
Objective: Research on supervisor social control provided little evidence for a relation to employee alcohol use, and only one study explored illicit drug use. Based on past research, several hypotheses were developed that the relation between supervisor social control and substance use depends on (a) the dimension social control (contact vs. enforcement), (b) the temporal context of substance use (on the job vs. off the job), and (c) substance legality (alcohol vs. illicit drugs). Method: Data came from a national probability sample of U.S. workers. Supervisor social control represented both supervisor contact and supervisor enforcement. Measures of alcohol and illicit drug use each assessed several dimensions of off-the-job use (overall use, overall impairment, and use after work) and on-the-job use (use before work, use during the workday, and impairment during the workday). Results: As hypothesized, the results did not support a relation of supervisor contact to off-the-job or on-the-job alcohol use and illicit drug use. Supervisor enforcement was unrelated to off-the-job alcohol use but was negatively related to on-the-job alcohol use. Supervisor enforcement was negatively related to both off-the-job and on-the-job illicit drug use. Conclusions: These findings help clarify the generally unsupportive findings from past research for a relation between supervisor social control and employee alcohol use, as well as extend this line of research to include illicit drug use. The results suggest that to fully understand the relation of supervisor social control to employee substance use, one must consider the dimension of supervisor social control, temporal context of substance use, and substance legality. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 73, 303–310, 2012)