Substance use among bi/multiracial youth in the United States: Profiles of psychosocial risk and protection

Trenette Clark Goings, Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Matthew O. Howard, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bi/multiracial youth face higher risk of engaging in substance use than most monoracial youth. Objectives: This study contrasts the prevalence of substance use among bi/multiracial youth with that of youth from other racial/ethnic groups, and identifies distinct profiles of bi/multiracial youth by examining their substance use risk. Methods: Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (collected between 2002 and 2014), we analyze data for 9,339 bi/multiracial youth ages 12–17 living in the United States. Analyses use multinomial regression and latent class analysis. Results: With few exceptions, bi/multiracial youth in general report higher levels of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drug use compared to other youth of color. Bi/multiracial youth also report higher levels of marijuana use compared to non-Hispanic white adolescents. However, latent class modeling also revealed that a majority (54%) of bi/multiracial youth experience high levels of psychosocial protection (i.e., strong antidrug views and elevated parental engagement) and low levels of psychosocial risk (i.e., low peer substance use, school-related problems, and social-environmental risk), and report very low levels of substance use. Substance use was found to be particularly elevated among a minority of bi/multiracial youth (28%) reporting elevated psychosocial risk and low levels of protection. Bi/multiracial youth characterized by both elevated psychosocial risk and elevated psychosocial protection (22%) reported significantly elevated substance use as well. Conclusions: While bi/multiracial youth in general exhibit elevated levels of substance use, substantial heterogeneity exists among this rapidly-growing demographic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 4

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (K01 DA035895 and P30 DA027827).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor & Francis.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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