Ethnicity and ethnic identity as predictors of drug norms and drug use among preadolescents in the US Southwest

Flavio Marsiglia, Stephen Kulis, Michael L. Hecht, Stephen Sills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


This article reports the results of research exploring how ethnicity and ethnic identity may "protect" adolescents against drug use and help them form antidrug use norms. This study was conducted in 1998 and is based on a sample of 4364 mostly Mexican American seventh graders residing in a large southwestern city of diverse acculturation statuses. It aims at testing existing findings by conducting the research within the unique geographic and ethnic context of the Southwest region of the United States. This research examines how strength of ethnic identity plays a distinctive role in drug use behavior among the various ethnic groups represented in the sample: Mexican Americans, other Latinos, American Indians, African Americans, non-Hispanic Whites, and those of mixed ethnic backgrounds. Positive ethnic identity (i.e., strong ethnic affiliation, attachment, and pride) was associated with less substance use and stronger antidrug norms in the sample overall. Unexpectedly, the apparently protective effects of positive ethnic identity were generally stronger for non-Hispanic White respondents (a numerical minority group in this sample) than for members of ethnic minority groups. Implications for prevention programs tailored for Mexican/Mexican American students are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1094
Number of pages34
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2004


  • Acculturation
  • Adolescents
  • Baffer effect
  • Drug use
  • Ethic labels
  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnicity
  • Mexican American

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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