TUESDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Hispanic teens are more
likely to abuse illegal and legal drugs than their black or white
peers, a new report finds.
Fifty-four percent of Hispanic teens surveyed said they had used
an illicit drug, compared with 45 percent of black teens and 43
percent of white teens.
"Hispanic kids in grades nine to 12 are at higher risk," said
Sean Clarkin, director of strategy and programs at The Partnership
at Drugfree.org, the nonprofit group that released the report
Hispanic children perceive these drugs as less harmful than
other teens, he said.
Why is that? "They see drug use among their peers and in their
community, and the messages they are not getting from their parents
-- these all may be contributing to this feeling that drug use is
normal," Clarkin said.
The survey found that 62 percent of Hispanic teens have been
offered drugs -- including Ecstasy, crack/cocaine, heroin and
methamphetamine -- at least once, compared with 53 percent of white
teens and 46 percent of black teens.
And schools are not drug-free zones, the report suggested.
Forty-two percent of Hispanic teens have been offered drugs at
school, compared with 30 percent of white teens and 28 percent of
Conducted yearly, the latest survey included responses from
nearly 3,900 teens and more than 800 parents questioned in
In many cases, when it comes to teen drug use, parents aren't
communicating disapproval, especially when it comes to marijuana,
According to the report, 21 percent of Hispanic parents "think
it's OK if their teen smokes marijuana sometimes," compared with 11
percent of black parents and 6 percent of white parents.
In addition, 28 percent of Hispanic parents say using
prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs, compared with
20 percent of black parents and 9 percent of white parents.
"Many parents feel there is nothing they can do; it's really the
responsibility of the school. And parents are at a loss for what to
say or what to do," Clarkin said.
"Parents, however, underestimate the influence and leverage that
they have with their kids," he said. "The attitude of parents is
often 'that's what kids do, I did it and I'm fine, so don't worry,'
but the reality is the sooner action is taken, the lower the chance
that this is going to develop into something problematic."
On the plus side, the report found that 85 percent of Hispanic
parents know that teens who start using drugs and alcohol are more
likely to have substance abuse problems later on. This awareness
was seen in 74 percent of white parents and 73 percent of black
Moreover, 94 percent of Hispanic parents say they are likely to
take action when they find out their child uses drugs or alcohol at
home. That compares with 93 percent of black parents and 86 percent
of white parents, according to the report.
"It's all about parental guidance," said Dr. Metee
Comkornruecha, at the department of adolescent medicine at Miami
Children's Hospital. "It's about educating kids and changing views
on drugs -- not seeing them as harmless, but as potentially causing
Highlights of the report include: 47 percent of Hispanic teens used marijuana, compared with 39
percent of black teens and 36 percent of white teens.13 percent of Hispanic teens used Ecstasy, compared with 8
percent of black teens and 6 percent of white teens.13 percent of Hispanic teens used cocaine, compared with 8
percent of black teens and 3 percent of white teens.62 percent of Hispanic teens drank alcohol, compared with 59
percent of white teens and 50 percent of black teens.24 percent of Hispanic teens say they see frequent drug use in
their communities, compared with 15 percent of white teens and 24
percent of black teens.26 percent of Hispanic teens have abused or misused a
prescription drug, compared with 15 percent for white or black
teens.16 percent of Hispanic teens have mixed alcohol with abusing
prescription drugs, compared with 11 percent of white teens and 6
percent of black teens.10 percent of Hispanic teens abused over-the-counter cough
medicine in the past year, compared with 5 percent for both white
and black teens.
To learn more, visit the
The Partnership at