The Breakdown: Substance Abuse Among Minority Populations in the United States

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

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According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.5 million people aged 12 or older need treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse. Addiction affects nearly all of America – a person with an addiction is affected mentally, physically, and spiritually – and their loved ones experience devastating moments of despair as they feel helpless watching their loved one struggle daily. No discrimination is exhibited when it comes to addiction, as all populations deal with this major issue. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides some excellent information on various populations:

African Americans

Illegal drug use among this population is 12.4%, compared to the national average of 10.2%. According to a 2014 study titled “Less Drinking, Yet More Problems: Understanding African American Drinking and Related Problems”, researchers from Indianapolis found that African Americans report a later initiation of alcohol use during adolescence and generally lower rates of use into adulthood, but they experience more social consequences from drinking as well as alcohol-related injuries and illnesses. African Americans are also at higher risk for polydrug use.

American Indians and Alaskan Natives

SAMHSA states that this population has amongst the highest rates of substance abuse and mental disorders compared to other U.S. racial or ethnic groups. The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims this is likely due to limited socioeconomic opportunity; American Indian youth are also initiating substance use earlier than other populations. Alaskan Native adolescents show to have the highest rates of lifetime tobacco use, marijuana use, nonmedical use of prescription relievers, and nonmedical use psychotherapeutics than other populations.

Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders

Among people ages 12 and older, the rate of illegal drug use was 4.1% amongst Asian Americans and 15.6% amongst Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders. Binge drinking was also lowest among Asian Americans with a 14.5% rate, while Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders experienced a rate of 18.3%. Many people in this population find difficulty seeking treatment for substance abuse due to language barriers and external societal perceptions of success.

Hispanics or Latinos

Of about 52 million Hispanics or Latinos in the United States, the rate of illicit drug use among Hispanics ages 12 and up was 8.9%, while the national average was 10.2%. Binge drinking amongst this population was 24.7%, and alcohol use within the past year among Hispanic youth was 23.9%. A study conducted by researchers from Chicago found that this population is about average with the general population on drinking rates, but tend to have poorer outcomes in substance abuse programs due to language and cultural barriers.





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