The purpose of this; paper is to review two dominant social perspectives on the etiology of substance abuse among youths and young adults-the stage and risk factor outlooks-and to discuss them in light of recent demographic and ecological research. The differential demography of drug abuse strongly suggests that the environmental context influences the use and abuse of substances. In an era of great public concern about substance abuse, the use of individually-focused perspectives appears to have resulted in person-centered skills training programs and "say no" media campaigns. Consideration of community-level factors in the etiology of drug abuse permits the identification of high-risk schools and neighborhoods, enabling prevention specialists to target specific blocks, census tracts, and similar localities for more comprehensive intervention.