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Teen Substance Use Seems to Differ by Race

California study finds Hispanics most likely to drink, smoke, use marijuana; Asians least likely

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 1, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- A new California survey suggests that Hispanic middle-school students are more likely to smoke, drink and use marijuana than other kids their age, while Asians are the least likely to experiment with these substances.

Researchers studied 5,500 seventh- and eighth-graders at 16 schools in California. More than one-fifth of the students said they'd consumed alcohol, while 10 percent said they'd smoked and 7 percent reported smoking marijuana.

About one in four Hispanics said they'd consumed alcohol, compared to 21 percent of blacks, 18 percent of whites and just below 10 percent of Asians. The higher rates for Hispanics and lower rates for Asians held up even when researchers adjusted their figures for factors such as gender.

The study is published in the September issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Most efforts to reduce alcohol, tobacco and drug use "haven't really been tailored to be culturally appropriate," said study co-author Regina A. Shih, of the research organization RAND Corporation, in a news release from the journal's publisher.

"It is important for parents to be aware that many youth initiate substance use during the middle-school years, and parents can help their teen make healthier choices by monitoring their activities and talking with them about these issues," Shih said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has a Web site for teens about substance abuse.

SOURCE: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, news release, Sept. 1, 2010
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