White and Hispanic teens more likely to abuse drugs than African-Americans
A new analysis of teenage drug abuse finds widespread problems among whites, Native Americans, Hispanics and youngsters of multiple races, with less severe abuse among Asian and African-American teens.
Among kids who abuse drugs, marijuana is most heavily used, followed by stimulants and then alcohol. Prescription opioids such as oxycodone have surpassed inhalants as a source for getting high.
The findings, reported Monday by scientists at Duke University and elsewhere, are published in the November issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
"I think it will be surprising to some people what the numbers show," said Dan C. Blazer, M.D., PhD, in Duke's Department of Psychiatry and senior author on the study. "There's a significant burden of these disorders, and it's important to recognize that among teens using these substances, there's between a 10 percent and 26 percent chance of having a substance use disorder."
Blazer said the group analyzed data collected between 2005 and 2008 from confidential national surveys of 72,561 adolescents ages 12 to 17. Of those youngsters, 37 percent said they had used alcohol or drugs in the past year; 7.9 percent met the criteria for a substance use disorder, meaning their use had escalated, interfered with other activities, caused legal problems and/or damaged relationships.
Native American teens were found to have the highest prevalence of alcohol use (37 percent), followed by whites (35.3 percent) and Hispanics (32.2 percent). By contrast, 24.8 percent of African-American and 18.9 percent of Asian teens reported using alcohol in the previous year. Drug use followed a similar pattern, with the highest rate of use reported among Native American youngsters (31 percent), children of multiple ethnicities (23.3 percent) and whites (20 percent). African-American and Hispanic youths had drug use rates of about 18 percent, while Asians had the lowest rate at 11.7 percent.
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