Photo: Latino Teen Drug Abuse
A national analysis of drug abuse among teens released yesterday – among the most comprehensive to date – found that Native American, Latino and white adolescents have the highest rates of drug-related disorders.
In culturally diverse California – where recent illicit drug use among teens has climbed to nearly 11 percent – the findings have implications for the state’s prevention and treatment policy.
“This is a national study, but California is the prototypical state where there is a mixture of individuals across racial and ethnic groups,” said Dan G. Blazer, a Duke University psychiatry professor and co-author of the study. “In terms of looking at comparisons across races, this study is very relevant to California.”
According to a state tally, there were 23,322 teens in publicly monitored and funded treatment programs in 2009.
The study analyzed federal surveys of more than 72,000 youth between ages 12 and 17. Thirty-seven percent said they had used alcohol or drugs in the past year, and about 8 percent misused substances to the extent that they had a “substance use disorder.”
After researchers controlled for variables like age and socioeconomic status, they found “elevated odds of substance-related disorders” among Native American, white, Latino and mixed-race teens. African American and Asian youth had the lowest rates of substance use.