The nation’s racists were shocked this week to learn that white adolescents are more likely to use drugs or alcohol than their black or Asian counterparts.
The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about 39% of white teens between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to using substances in the past year, compared to just 32% of blacks and 24% of Asians. White kids were almost twice more likely to have substance abuse disorders than black participants.
The findings contradict prevailing public perceptions about drug and alcohol users.
Surely, this will put unfair stereotypes about drugs and alcohol to rest in America!
No, but seriously, if you’ve seen any PSAs lately, you’d probably think that drug and alcohol abuse is a much bigger problem for black than white youth. Take for example, this commercial:
Or, how about this one? Exhibit B:
With these findings, perhaps “Above the Influence” should target a new demographic? Maybe there’s a drug problem outside of major urban (and black) areas? Perhaps in rural and predominantly white places, like West Virginia?
“There is certainly still a myth out there that black kids are more likely to have problems with drugs than white kids, and this documents as clearly as any study we’re aware of that the rate of…substance-related disorders among African-American youths is significantly lower,” said Dan Blazer of Duke’s Medical Center, a chief author of the study, to Raleigh News & Observer.
Also significant in this study is the shift in kinds of drugs that teens are using. Aside from marijuana, prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin were more popular than inhalants.
Heroin is still the drug most closely related to addiction, and 13% of teens reported using marijuana in the last year.
A whopping 48% of Native American adolescents claimed to have used drugs or alcohol in the past year. The researchers cited a lack of cultural competence as a major barrier to treating and retaining Native Americans, calling for efforts to “identify and expand prevention measures that are culturally effective and address the quality and acceptability of treatment for adolescents with substance use problems.”
Understandably, many people question the point of combating adolescent substance use. Kids will be kids, and no amount of money for campaigns or treatments will completely eradicate some teens’ efforts to get high or drunk.
True, but numerous studies, including a study released in June by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, show that 90% of Americans who are current substance abusers started using drugs and alcohol before they turned 18.
And since public health issues, social services, public safety and lost productivity linked to drug and alcohol abuse cost society approximately $465 billion last year, combating the problem sooner rather than later makes sense, even to the most fiscal of conservatives. And racists, let’s not forget about the racists.
In the meantime, check out this retro (and not racist in the slightest ad) from 1991: