What role does race play with respect to substance abuse? It may play a larger role than you think.
White children between the ages of 12 and 17 are nearly twice as likely to have a drug problem than African-Americans, despite African-American children being nearly twice as likely to be arrested for a drug charge, separate studies have revealed.
The study on drug abuse, published Monday by the Archives of General Psychiatry, used data from 72,561 youth interviewed by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. From this data, researchers found that 37 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 have used alcohol or drugs in the past year, with nearly 8 percent using drugs or alcohol often enough to have a substance-abuse disorder.
Out of the 8 percent who had a drug problem, the racial breakdown was: 15 percent Native American; 9.2 percent mixed racial heritage; 9.0 percent white; 7.7 percent Hispanic; 5 percent African-American, and 3.5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander.
Nevertheless, arrest rates show a much stronger focus on blacks than whites. In a 2008 study of juvenile arrest trends by the United States Department of Justice data showed that for every 1,000 African-American between the ages of 10 and 17 arrested for a drug abuse violation, less than 600 white children were arrested between 2004 and 2008.
The high rates of drug use among young people also reveals that marijuana and analgesic opioids, or painkillers, were used more often than alcohol, according to the study.
In 2009, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released a study that found children between the ages of 12 and 17 were increasingly able to get marijuana and prescription drugs than alcohol. Although the study did not reveal why access to marijuana had increased, parents could be partially blamed for the increased access to prescription drugs could be partially due to parents.
A substantial number of American parents have become passive pushers. A few decades ago, parents used to have a lock on the liquor cabinet. Maybe there should be a lock on the medicine cabinet.