Hispanic Teens Are More Likely to Use Illicit Drugs

Teens generally hide a lot of things from their parents and near and dear ones. But when it comes to trippy flip chocolate bar or alcohol, they try their best not to get caught and find various methods to hide drugs from the sight of their parents and teachers. Teenagers hooked on drugs are mostly found snorting or injecting drugs along with their friends or college mates in secluded places.

However, lately many adolescents are abusing drugs and alcohol openly, with Latino teens increasingly getting hooked on illegal substances. Sadly, most of these teens do not understand how dangerous drugs could be.

According to a 2013 study by the Partnership at Drug Free organization, “Hispanic teens are more likely to use illicit drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine, compared with their African-American and Caucasian counterparts.” Nearly 54 percent of Hispanic teens were found to use an illicit drug, followed by 45 percent of the African-American teens at the second position and 43 percent of Caucasians taking the third spot.

According to William Raikes, assistant director of consumer research at The Partnership at Drugfree, parental approval or negligence, especially in case of Hispanics, could be the contributing factor for drug abuse in children. “Hispanic parents appear to have some misconceptions regarding prescription drug misuse and abuse,” he said.

The report also highlighted that Hispanic adolescents received less punishment for their drug use. Just as other parents, even Hispanic parents have conversations with their children, but their discussions do not focus on finding ways to prevent the misuse of drugs. In reality, Hispanic teens are more likely to be exposed to substance abuse in their daily lives through various channels such as gaining access to substances, being in the company of individuals who abuse substances or being offered drugs by friends and relatives. Under such circumstances, teens perceive drug abuse as something perfectly normal and fall into the trap of drug addiction.

It has been found that this trend of Hispanic teen drug abuse is being followed nationwide, although certain drugs are more popular in certain areas, for instance, marijuana is more prevalent on the West coast than in the Midwest.

Furthermore, research shows that Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans are more vulnerable to drug abuse and dependence when compared to other Latinos, and possibly even European and African-Americans. Moreover, factors such as immigration status, economic conditions, education levels and access to public benefits can also play a role in creating behavioral disparities among ethnic groups in the United States.

However, it is important not to play down drug addiction problem in teens. However, one can adopt certain strategies to prevent negative consequences of drug abuse that can be long-lasting. Some of the steps to prevent drug addiction, especially among Hispanics, include:

  • Understanding the local Hispanic populations in terms of structure and cultural composition, and assessing their relations with the non-Hispanic community to ascertain the reasons for the widespread abuse of drugs among teens.
  • Taking steps to involve local Hispanic community members and other community-based organizations in developing outreach programs in Spanish.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of community-based therapeutic strategies that facilitate reintegration and prevent social isolation.
  • Identifying barriers to service utilization, such as understanding health-related matters, facilitating communication between health care providers and patients, and understanding the impact of insurance coverage on engagement and rehabilitation.

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