Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Substance Use Treament Rates Lower for Minorities

Significant racial and ethnic differences exist in rates of treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs), according to data from 144,000 adolescents in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health covering 2001 to 2008. Of those, 11.4 percent had been treated for a substance use disorder in the prior year.

“The findings indicate exceptionally low rates of treatment for SUDs among all adolescents, with black and Hispanic adolescents experiencing the lowest rates of SUD treatment,” wrote researchers led by Janet Cummings, Ph.D., of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, in the December Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. After adjustment, about 6.9 percent of blacks and 8.5 percent of Hispanics had been treated in the previous years, compared with 10.7 percent of whites. Adolescents who received mental health treatment were more likely to get substance abuse treatment, too.

Future research should investigate barriers to treatment and whether lower rates of substance abuse treatment lead to worse outcomes later in life, such as more encounters with the criminal justice system, concluded the authors.

For more about teen drug use, see Psychiatric News.

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