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Higher rate of substance use among Native American youth on reservations

Science Spotlight

May 31, 2018

Diverse group of teens sitting on a bench looking at their cell phones.Courtesy of NIDA

A survey comparing drug use among Native American youth living on or near reservations to a national sample of American youth found that Native American youth report substantially higher use of alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, and other illicit drugs. The research from Colorado State University, published in JAMA Network Open, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Using an anonymous online survey, the authors asked American Indian eighth, 10th, and 12th graders enrolled in schools on or near reservations to answer a set of questions about their use of illicit substances at any time during their life and during the past 30 days. The results were compared to responses from identical questions asked of approximately 50,000 eighth, 10th, and 12th graders surveyed in the NIDA-sponsored Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults. The general MTF sample has only about 5 percent America Indian participation.

The study found that lifetime drug use among American Indian youth were higher than among the general MTF sample at each grade level for all illicit substances, except for tranquilizers and amphetamines, and 30-day rates of use were higher for nearly all substances.

While much higher rates of illicit drug, alcohol, and cigarette use exist among American Indian youth, the study reinforces the need for early prevention efforts for all youth, including culturally-sensitive intervention materials that take advantage of the inherent strengths and traditions of Native American people.

For a copy of the paper published in JAMA Network Open, go to "Substance use Among American Indian Youth on Reservations with Comparison to a National Sample of US Adolescents."

For information about NIDA’s efforts to improve American Indian/Alaska Native addiction sciences, please see American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Coordinating Committee.

For more information about all substances, including illicit drugs, alcohol, marijuana and tobacco, please visit Drugs of Abuse.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2018, May 31). Higher rate of substance use among Native American youth on reservations. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2018/05/higher-rate-substance-use-among-native-american-youth-reservations

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