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Latino Daily News

Tuesday August 20, 2013

HISPANIC HEALTH: Hispanic Teen Drug Use Dramatically Higher Than Other Teens

The Partnership at Drugfree.org today released new research from the latest Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), a nationally projectable survey that tracks teen drug and alcohol use and parent attitudes toward substance abuse among teens. The research, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, shows that Hispanic teens are using drugs at alarmingly higher levels when compared to teens from other ethnic groups. It confirms that substance abuse has become a normalized behavior among Latino youth.

According to the new PATS data, Hispanic teens are more likely to engage in substance abuse when compared to teens from other ethnic groups and are more likely to have abused the following substances within the past year:

*  More than half of Hispanic teens (54 percent) reported having used an illicit drug, versus 45 percent for African-American teens and 43 percent for Caucasian teens.

*  Almost half of Hispanic teens (47 percent) used marijuana, compared to 39 percent for African-American teens and 36 percent for Caucasian teens.

*  One in eight (13 percent) Hispanic teens used Ecstasy, compared to 6 percent for Caucasian teens and 8 percent for African-American teens.

*  One in eight (13 percent) Hispanic teens reported cocaine use, compared to 8 percent for African-American teens and 3 percent for Caucasian teens.

*  Hispanic teens reported they consumed alcohol (62 percent) at a similar rate to Caucasian teens (59 percent) and significantly higher than African-American teens (50 percent).

The PATS data underscore that Hispanic teens are more likely than Caucasian and African-American teens to see drugs as part of their environment: to have friends who use drugs and to feel they have easy access to Ecstasy, crack/cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Hispanic teens are more likely to be offered drugs, even within their own schools and too many are exposed to substance abuse within their own communities:

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of Hispanic teens have been offered drugs at least once in their lifetime, compared to 53 percent for Caucasian teens and 46 percent for African-American teens.

More than four in ten (42 percent) Hispanic teens have been offered drugs at their own school, compared to 30 percent for Caucasian teens and 28 percent for African-American teens.

Approximately one-quarter (24 percent) of Hispanic teens report seeing frequent drug use in their communities, compared to 15 percent for Caucasian teens and 24 percent for African-American teens.

Teen substance abuse is only one of many challenges Hispanic parents face when it comes to protecting their children. The survey data show that Hispanic parents recognize that they have the main responsibility for educating their teens about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse.