Substance abuse and dependence among low income african americans: Using data from the national survey on drug use health to demystify assumptions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The media has portrayed African Americans as drug users and criminals. The purpose of this study is to test the assumption that low-income African Americans use more alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and illicit drugs than other racial groups using data from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to compare drug abuse and dependence across low income racial groups (N = 20,172). Most respondents were white, female, and older than 26 years of age. The majority completed high school and reported annual family incomes between $10,000 and $19,000. Few participants reported receiving public assistance. Drug abuse and dependence rates varied across drug type and across race. Drug dependence and abuse were measured using the Nicotine Dependence Syndrome Scale and criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Hierarchical regression was conducted to examine the level of association between racial background and drug abuse and dependence after controlling for age and gender. Results reveal that the assumption of high drug and alcohol use and abuse rates among low-income African Americans should be, at best, reexamined. This study has significant implications for both policy and social work practice because it breaks down normalized and biased assumptions of low-income African American drug use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-268
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Addictive Diseases
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • African American
  • Drug dependence and abuse
  • Drug use
  • NSDUH
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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