An Exploratory Study of Factors Associated with Alcohol and Drug Use Among Latino Adolescents: A Secondary Data Analysis

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Neffa, Melissa Stephanie

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East Carolina University


Latino adolescents in the United States have reported a higher annual prevalence of use of nearly all illegal drugs compared to non-Latino adolescents over the past several years. With the rapid growth of the Latino population in the U.S. there is an increasing need to better understand the factors associated with substance use among adolescents. Learning more about these factors can enhance knowledge surrounding current prevalence rates, inform future research, and support prevention programs designed for Latino adolescents. This exploratory study used secondary data analysis to investigate the difference between Latino and non-Latino adolescents' attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control as it relates to alcohol and marijuana use, and the misuse of prescription drugs. Results from this study indicate that attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control differ between Latino and non-Latino adolescents. Latino adolescents report a higher perceived acceptability of alcohol and marijuana use, and a lower perceived risk of prescription drug misuse as compared to non-Latino adolescents. Measures for subjective norms indicate that, compared to non-Latino peers, Latino adolescents report higher perceptions of family approval for smoking marijuana, as well as higher perceptions of peer approval for misusing prescription drugs and consuming alcohol almost daily. While risk perceptions were low and attitudes toward the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs were more favorable for Latino adolescents as compared to non-Latino adolescents, access to prescription drugs was perceived to be more difficult. In sum, perceived risks and acceptability of illegal drug use, family and peer approval, and access to substances are factors that differ between Latino and non-Latino adolescents, factors that could potentially influence a Latino adolescent's decision to use a substance.