White and mixed-race youths rank high in alcohol, substance abuse

White and mixed-race youths rank high in alcohol, substance abuse

Los Angeles Times

Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog

The first-ever survey of adolescent alcohol and drug abuse to recognize youths of mixed race or ethnicity has found that such kids hover closest to white adolescents in the rate at which they suffer substance abuse disorders. That is not reassuring, because white adolescents are among the most likely ethnic and racial groups to have substance-use disorders.

Of all ethnic groups, Native Americans were found to suffer the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence—about 15% in a given year. African American adolescents were among the least likely to abuse or be dependent on drugs or alcohol: on a yearly basis, roughly 5% of black teens fit the criteria for substance-use disorder—almost as low a rate as prevails among adolescents of Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity (3.5%).

Latino youths—the fastest-growing ethnic group in this age cohort—fell below white and multi-ethnic adolescents in their rate of substance-use disorders, but not by much: 7.7% qualified as having dangerously abused or been dependent on drugs or alcohol in the past year.

The survey was published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Between 2005 and 2007, researchers plumbed the drug and alcohol use patterns of 72,561 adolescents between age 12 and 17. They conducted computer-assisted interviews with adolescents  about their use in the past 12 months of alcohol and a wide range of illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and opioid painkillers taken for non-medical reasons…

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