Context: While young racial/ethnic groups are the fastest growing population in the United States, data about substance-related disorders among adolescents of various racial/ethnic backgrounds are lacking.
Objective: To examine the magnitude of past-year DSM-IV substance-related disorders (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, analgesic opioids, stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers) among adolescents of white, Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander, and multiple race/ethnicity.
Design: The 2005 to 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Setting: Academic research.
Participants: Noninstitutionalized household adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.
Main outcome measures: Substance-related disorders were assessed by standardized survey questions administered using the audio computer-assisted self-interviewing method.
Results: Of 72 561 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, 37.0% used alcohol or drugs in the past year; 7.9% met criteria for a substance-related disorder, with Native Americans having the highest prevalence of use (47.5%) and disorder (15.0%). Analgesic opioids were the second most commonly used illegal drugs, following marijuana, in all racial/ethnic groups; analgesic opioid use was comparatively prevalent among adolescents of Native American (9.7%) and multiple race/ethnicity (8.8%). Among 27 705 past-year alcohol or drug users, Native Americans (31.5%), adolescents of multiple race/ethnicity (25.2%), adolescents of white race/ethnicity (22.9%), and Hispanics (21.0%) had the highest rates of substance-related disorders. Adolescents used marijuana more frequently than alcohol or other drugs, and 25.9% of marijuana users met criteria for marijuana abuse or dependence. After controlling for adolescents' age, socioeconomic variables, population density of residence, self-rated health, and survey year, adjusted analyses of adolescent substance users indicated elevated odds of substance-related disorders among Native Americans, adolescents of multiple race/ethnicity, adolescents of white race/ethnicity, and Hispanics compared with African Americans; African Americans did not differ from Asians or Pacific Islanders.
Conclusions: Substance use is widespread among adolescents of Native American, white, Hispanic, and multiple race/ethnicity. These groups also are disproportionately affected by substance-related disorders.