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Substance Use is Widespread Among Native American, White and Mixed-Race Youth

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A new study finds widespread substance abuse among Native American, mixed-race and white teenagers. The study of more than 27,000 adolescents found 31.5 percent of Native American teens had substance-related disorders, followed by adolescents of multiple race or ethnicity (25 percent), whites (23 percent) and Hispanics (21 percent).

In contrast, only 5 percent of African American teenagers abused or were dependent on drugs or alcohol, the study found. For Asian or Pacific Islander teenagers, the rate was 3.5 percent.

This is the first study of substance abuse in teenagers that recognizes youths of mixed race or ethnicity, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Teens of mixed race or ethnicity were more likely than any other group to show signs of substance use disorders for both drugs and alcohol. Mixed-race teens were also more likely than their white counterparts to have used opioids, marijuana, inhalants, cocaine or hallucinogens in the previous year.

Overall, marijuana was the most commonly abused substance among teens, followed by opioids.

The findings are published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Sandra / November 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    This just reinforces the facts that drug use is roughly equal through all racial/ethnic/income groups, with white teenager’s use being somewhat higher, but the prison population in the US is overwhelmingly Black and Hispanic, and convicted of non-violent drug-related crimes, either posession of an amount an user or seller to other users would have, or street level dealers, or petty crime to buy drugs. With prisons overcrowded, the most-needed rehabilitation program of drug treatment is not available, and employment is unavailable to ex-cons in the legitimate job market.

  2. Avatar of Howard Galt
    Howard Galt / November 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    The above article reports the statistics in error. If that high of a percentage of youth had a substance-related disorder, we could not build treatment centers and jails fast enough to hold them all.
    Here are the actual figures, as reported in the LA Times article:
    “Adolescents who identified themselves as mixed race or ethnicity were more likely than any other group to exhibit signs of problematic drug and alcohol use: 3.5% appeared to have substance-use disorders in both categories, compared with 3.1% of Native Americans, 2.3% of whites and 2.3% of Latinos. Among African Americans and Asians, signs of substance-use disorders were rare, totaling 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively.”

  3. Candice Besson / November 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Howard, we have used figures from both the abstract in the Archives of General Psychiatry and the Los Angeles Times article you referenced. The data from the first paragraph in this article is found in the abstract here: http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/68/11/1176. I will add the link to clarify. That particular figure from the Los Angeles Times article is not seen in the abstract. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

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