Study: Black Teens Are Less Involved in Drinking and Drugs

Medical researchers surveyed 70,000 adolescents from all racial groups.

Posted: 11/09/2011 01:24 PM EST
Study reports Black teens less likely to use drugs.

African-American teens are less likely than youth of other groups to use alcohol or drugs, according to a new study.

A research team led by Li-Tzy Wu of Duke University Medical Center analyzed data collected from 72,561 young people aged 12 to 17 and found that drug and alcohol use was least prevalent among Black and Asian teens and most prevalent among American Indians, whites, and Latinos.  

The highest rate of usage (48 percent) was reported among American Indian youth. Additionally, 39 percent of white teens, 37 percent of Latino teens and 36 percent mixed-race teens used drugs and alcohol, according to the findings. In contrast to those figures, 32 percent of Black teens and just 24 percent of Asian youth were drug and alcohol users.  

The data for the report was gathered from confidential federal surveys of 72,561 adolescents between 2005 and 2008; the results were published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers say the data will be helpful in changing stereotypes and revamping drug resistance and education programming.

"There is certainly still a myth out there that Black kids are more likely to have problems with drugs than white kids, and this documents as clearly as any study we’re aware of that the rate of ... substance-related disorders among African American youths is significantly lower," said Dr. Dan Blazer of Duke’s Department of Psychiatry, a senior author of the study.

Among the most common types of drugs reportedly used by the teens’ surveys, marijuana topped the list, with 13 percent of all teens reporting use. Also, Native Americans, mixed-race teens and white teens also had a higher prevalence of using both alcohol and drugs than teens among other races. 

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