Hispanic Kids More Likely to Drink, Smoke

September 2, 2010

Hispanic middle school students are more likely abuse alcohol and marijuana and to smoke cigarettes than those in other racial and ethnic groups, according to research published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Hispanic middle school students are more likely abuse alcohol and marijuana and to smoke cigarettes than those in other racial and ethnic groups, according to findings from a study published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. These results “highlight the importance of targeting specific individual, family, and school factors in tailored intervention efforts to reduce substance use among young minority adolescents.”

In the study, Regina A. Shih, PhD, and colleagues from the RAND Corporation examined racial/ethnic differences in alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use among a sample of 5,500 seventh and eighth graders from 16 schools in southern California. The goal was to evaluate “the extent to which individual, family, and school factors mediated racial/ethnic disparities in use,” according to researchers.

Participating students were asked to report on lifetime and past-month substance use, individual factors (expectancies and resistance self-efficacy), family factors (parental respect, and adult and older sibling use), and school factors (school-grade use and perceived peer use). Shih and colleagues used generalized estimating equations to examine the odds of consumption for each racial/ethnic group, adjusting for sex, grade, and family structure, and employed path analysis models to test mediation of racial/ethnic differences through individual, family, and school factors.

The investigators found that Hispanics reported higher and Asians reported lower lifetime and past-month substance use, compared with non-Hispanic Caucasians, while rates of substance use did not differ between non-Hispanic African Americans and Caucasians. There were several individual factors that mediated the relationship between Hispanic ethnicity and substance use, including negative expectancies and resistance self-efficacy. And although higher rates of use among Hispanics was generally not explained by family or school factors, a number of factors mediated the relationship between Asian race and lower alcohol use, including individual, family, and school dynamics.

These factors, said researchers, “may serve as important targets for future intervention research that is more culturally appropriate for younger adolescents of different racial/ethnic groups.” They noted that “future research is needed to examine other factors that may contribute to racial/ethnic differences in alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use, including sensation-seeking behavior, parental attitudes toward substance use, parental monitoring, acculturation, and racial/ethnic make-up of school populations, which have been previously linked with early adolescent substance use.”

For more:

  • Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing: Engaging Families to Prevent Substance Use among Latino Youth
  • Journal of Addictive Diseases: Protective and Risk Factors Associated with Drug Use Among Hispanic Youth
  • Energy-Alcohol Beverage Puts Young Adults at High Risk