The influence of ethnic identity on drug use among ethnic minority adolescents

W. H. James, G. K. Kim, E. Armijo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Ethnic identity is a significant factor related to self-concept and psychological development and similar to other aspects of identity, is of particular importance during the adolescent years when there is increased vulnerability to drug involvement. However, much of the research relative to adolescent drug use has focused on the annual and current prevalence rates among particular ethnic groups with little attention to ethnic or group identity issues. However, it is important to study and compare ethnic and group identity and its correlates to drug use. This article presents face-to-face interview questionnaire measures of ethnic identity as measured by affirmation and belongingness, ethnic identity achievement, ethnic behavior, and other group orientation [1], and drag use as measured by misuse, abuse, and chemical dependency diagnoses [2]. The questionnaires were administered to 127 (60 Ethnic, 67 White) adolescents from ethnically diverse schools in a large urban school district in the Pacific Northwest. The relationship of ethnic identity to drug use was examined. This study indicates that the questionnaire measures can be used to examine similarities and differences in ethnic identity and drug use among adolescents from different ethnic groups. A key finding of this study was that white adolescents scored lower in ethnic identity than did members of the four ethnic minority groups and the mixed racial group. However, the most significant key finding was that in the ethnic minority sample high levels of cultural identity were associated with heavy drug use. The results of this study suggest that social influences may play a larger role in the development of heavy drug use irrespective of the nature and origins of these social influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of drug education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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