Substance Use, Abuse Highest Among Native American Teens

Marijuana, then analgesic opioids most commonly used illegal drugs in all racial/ethnic groups

TUESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Substance use varies according to race/ethnicity, with Native American adolescents having the highest prevalence of use and substance-related disorders, according to a study published in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Li-Tzy Wu, Sc.D., from Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, and colleagues investigated the racial and ethnic differences in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IVDSM-IV substance-related disorders in the previous year among 72,561 noninstitutionalized adolescents (aged 12 to 17 years) in the United States. Standardized survey questions were used to assess substance-related disorders.

The investigators found that 37 percent of the adolescents reported alcohol or drug use in the previous year, and 7.9 percent met the criteria for a substance-related disorder. The highest prevalence of use and disorders were seen in Native Americans (47.5 and 15 percent, respectively). After marijuana, analgesic opioids were the second most commonly used illegal drug, with a prevalence of 9.7 percent in Native Americans and 8.8 percent in multiple race/ethnicity adolescents. Among 27,705 past-year alcohol or drug users, substance-related disorder rates were highest for Native Americans, followed by adolescents of multiple, white, and Hispanic race/ethnicity (31.5, 25.2, 22.9, and 21 percent, respectively). Marijuana was used more frequently than alcohol or other drugs, with abuse or dependence seen in 25.9 percent of users. The likelihood of substance-related disorders was higher for adolescents of Native American, multiple, white, and Hispanic race/ethnicity compared with African-Americans, who did not differ from Asians or Pacific Islanders, after adjusting for confounding variables.

"Substance use is widespread among adolescents of Native American, white, Hispanic, and multiple race/ethnicity," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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