Patterns of Substance Abuse among Rural Black Adolescents

By Albrecht, Stan L.; Amey, Cheryl et al. | Journal of Drug Issues, Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

Patterns of Substance Abuse among Rural Black Adolescents


Albrecht, Stan L., Amey, Cheryl, Miller, Michael K., Journal of Drug Issues


Adolescent substance abuse continues to be a major health-related problem in this country. Although substantial information is available on the overall incidence of use, comparatively little attention has been given to use patterns among minority adolescents or those who reside in nonmetropolitan areas. Using data from the most recent Monitoring the Future survey, we examine the role of race and residence in affecting substance abuse patterns. Overall, our findings are consistent with

previously reported research in indicating that residence differences are modest. Additionally, compared with Whites, Black youth are much less likely to report drug use. In the bivariate analysis, major correlates of use include gender, family structure, religious attendance, grade point average (GPA), and the availability of unearned income. In the multivariate analysis, race, family structure, religious attendance, GPA, and unearned income remain significant. The potential protective role played by family and church in the rural, Black context is discussed.

Introduction

The dominant preventable health problems of adolescents in this country have recently been described as falling into two major categories: (1) injuries and violence that kill and disable many young people before they reach adulthood, and (2) emerging habits and lifestyles that have both immediate and lifelong health consequences (LT.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1990:16). Both problems are directly linked to adolescent alcohol and other substance use. For example, unintentional injuries account for about half of all deaths among adolescents, a majority of these deaths involve motor vehicles, and more than half of all fatal motor vehicle accidents among young people are alcohol-related (Perrine et al. 1988). Homicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and approximately half of all homicides are associated with alcohol use and an additional 10% are other drug-related (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1990). Additionally, many of the most important risk factors for chronic diseases that occur later in life have direct roots in behavior patterns that develop during adolescence, including the use and abuse of drugs (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1990). Finally, teenage drug use is increasingly linked to other major health-related problems, including the transmission of HIV/AIDS and the birth of babies with severe health problems to adolescent, drug-using mothers (Centers for Disease Control 1990; Des Jarlais et al. 1991; Fullilove et al. 1990; Lowry, et al. 1994).

Because of the demonstrated relationship between substance use and this plethora of other problems, adolescent substance abuse has become a major healthrelated concern and curbing such abuse is a high priority for federal, state, and local policy makers. However, to allocate resources earmarked for this purpose in an effective and equitable manner, policy makers must have accurate information concerning the nature and extent of drug use among different segments of the population (General Accounting Office [GAO] 1990:12).

Although a growing body of data is now available on overall use patterns (see, for example, Oetting and Beauvais 1990; Richards 1980), including two decades of national student surveys (Johnston 1973; Johnston et al. 1987; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1990), there are a number of important research questions that are yet to be addressed. For example, until recently comparatively little attention has been given to the problem of substance abuse in rural America (GAO 1990; Swaim et al. 1986; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1994; Wagenfeld 1994), and this assessment applies even more critically to the current state of knowledge about substance use among rural minorities. Available data suggest that overall use rates may not be significantly different in rural than in urban areas (Oetting and Beauvais 1990; Johnston et al. …

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