Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Are Hispanic Teens at Higher Risk Than Peers for Substance Abuse?

While it has long been known that one’s ethnicity can sometimes be a contributing factor in how likely it is that the person will abuse drugs or alcohol, a recent survey has shed new light on this fact. Namely, it has revealed that Hispanic teens are more likely than African American or Caucasian teens to abuse drugs and alcohol.

The survey reported that 54 percent of the Hispanic teens who participated said they had used an illegal drug, while only 45 percent of African American teens and 43 percent of Caucasian teens said the same. Hispanic teens, it is believed, often perceive drugs as being less harmful than their African American or Caucasian peers do.  The survey also reported that Hispanic teens were offered illegal drugs more frequently than African American or Caucasian teens and that 21 percent of parents of Hispanic teens report having a relaxed attitude to mild drug use or experimentation. Other interesting study results include:

  • 47 percent of Hispanic teens admitted to marijuana usage
  • 13 percent of Hispanic teens admitted to Ecstasy and cocaine usage
  • 62 percent of Hispanic teens admitted to alcohol usage
  • 24 percent of Hispanic teens reported observing regular drug use in their communities
  • 26 percent of Hispanic teens admitted abusing prescription medications
  • 16 percent of Hispanic teens admitted abusing prescription medication and alcohol together
  • 10 percent of Hispanic teens admitted using over-the-counter cough syrup to get high

In all of the findings above, Hispanic teens were more likely to use the substance than their African American or Caucasian peers

Ethnicity Is Just One Factor

While the survey results definitely demonstrate that Hispanic teens are at an increased risk of abusing drugs and/or alcohol, and while it is important to be aware of this if you are the parent of a Hispanic teen, it is important to understand that all teens, regardless of ethnicity, need to be educated on the perils of drug and alcohol abuse. In addition to talking with your teen about drug and alcohol abuse, you can use some other strategies to reduce the likelihood of these behaviors occurring. These include:

  • Monitoring television viewing and online use (teens who are subjected to positive advertising, even inadvertent advertising, for alcohol and drugs are more likely to abuse the substances)
  • Limiting access to money
  • Demanding honesty from your teen and enforcing consistent punishments when honesty is not received
  • Being aware of where your kids spend their time and whom they spend time with
  • Knowing the parents of your teen’s friends
  • Keeping track of your teen’s academic performance
  • Eating dinner with your teen regularly
  • Giving your teen a curfew
  • Having an adult present when the teen returns from school

Sometimes, even if you utilize all of these strategies and more, drug and alcohol abuse may still occur.  If it does, seek help for your teen immediately. Here at Muir Wood, we offer treatment for adolescent and teenage boys. Call us today for more information.