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Drug use and discrimination among Phoenix area Mexican heritage youth
Date:12/14/2010

re unjust. These experiences often lead to negative psychological or emotional reactions (e.g., acculturation stress). Individuals, especially those with limited personal or social resources, often cope with such strains by engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use.

"In addition to developing prevention programs to reduce discrimination; acculturation stress; and alcohol, cigarette, or other drug use, this study's findings suggest that prevention efforts identify and encourage more effective coping strategies for Mexican-heritage youth," according to Kam. For example, there is already some evidence showing that parents, friends, and school educators may be influential in adolescents' decision to engage in risky behaviors such as substance use. Prevention programs may encourage these people to play a protective role.

The study did not find any difference in levels of perceived discrimination among students who were born in the US and those born in Mexico. However, this study found that the amount of time spent in the US and language preferences played an important role in the initial levels of perceived discrimination. Mexican-heritage youth who spoke in English with friends were more likely to experience lower levels of discrimination in the initial stages of their school life, but the language spoken with family members was not a factor related to levels of perceived discrimination. Similarly, the longer they lived in the U.S., the less likely they were to feel discriminated against, according to this study.

Perceived discrimination was measured by asking students: "Thinking about your ethnic group, (race or culture), do you agree or disagree with the following?" Sample items included: "People don't like me because of my ethnic group" or "Kids my age exclude me from their activities or games because my ethnic group is different."

Alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana within the last 30 days were measured on a 1-7 point scale
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Contact: Prabhu Ponkshe
prabhu@preventionresearch.org
703-918-4860
Society for Prevention Research
Source:Eurekalert

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