Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Unexpected Black Drug Use Finding

A student just brought an old study by Cheryl Amey and Stan Albrecht to my attention.

They found that

“Although both white and Latino adolescents from two-biological-parent families are less likely to use drugs than their counterparts from differently structured families, Black youths who come from similar two-parent families are among the most likely users of both alcohol and marijuana.”


Amey and Albrecht don't have a good explanation for this, and neither do I. My best guess is that the black two-parent families have fewer married parents than the white and Latino two-parent families. The black marriage rate is so low that it is common in studies like this to conflate married and cohabiting black parents. Cohabitors, especially cohabiting fathers, are less likely to discipline kids strictly than married fathers are.

7 comments:

Kerri said...

Was the study located in a specific region? Seems to me that could skew the results and make a sketchy correlation depending on the race/class make up of the area.

Gruntled said...

Nope, it was from the National Survey of Families and Households.

What regional differences have you observed?

Kelly said...

Were they less likely to be using something else (harder drugs)? Are there any other major variables (schools, neighborhoods)?
Because when I think alcohol and marijuana, I think of my privileged, happy, two-parent household high school experience...
Maybe those black kids are more likely to be hanging out with white kids with money and free time on their hands, which, in my experience, lead to both drinking and smoking pot in high school. Ahhh, high school. Good times.

Anonymous said...

Are married (or cohabiting) black parents more likely to both work long hours or be at work at the same time? Like Kelly, my own high school experience suggests that shenanigans are much, much more likely when the adults can be relied upon to be gone.

Gruntled said...

The interesting detail about black drug use that I didn't mention is that black kids were significantly less likely that whites or Hispanics to use marijuana, whereas Hispanics were significantly more likely to than the other two groups. I don't know why.

Black mothers are more likely to have jobs than other mothers. So two-parent black homes are more likely to have two jobs. That might create more unsupervised "delinquency hours" for black kids. But then you would expect black single parent kids to have even more unsupervised hours than the two-parent ones. Puzzling.

Kelly said...

"The interesting detail about black drug use that I didn't mention is that black kids were significantly less likely that whites or Hispanics to use marijuana, whereas Hispanics were significantly more likely to than the other two groups. I don't know why."

I think part of that, and this sounds obvious but bare with me, is that different drugs mean different things to different groups. My parents graduated high school around the "summer of love" and though it wasn't condoned, I smoked pot in high school and they knew. They didn't like it, but they certainly never saw it as an actual drug issue so much as a partying thing. Had it been any other drug, I think one time use would have bought me a trip to an in-patient rehab.
Maybe pot use is not seen as any worse than alcohol in Hispanic culture even more than in white culture. And maybe in black culture it's seen as an obvious path towards harder drugs, so kids who aren't going down that path are choosing not to do drugs at all.
When you get to harder drugs, money and social class still matter. Plenty of my peers, post college, most in grad school, med, or law, with money, habitually use cocaine. They are crazy, but none would think they are on the same level as someone who uses crack, heroin, or even someone who is on prescription pills. It's almost socially acceptable, like it was in the 80's, among well off white professionals with high-stress jobs.
When you consider drugs like acid and mushrooms, adderall, xanex, etc. and the groups of people who are not ashamed to use them all recreationally, the case is strong that different drugs are ok in different social groups.

Gruntled said...

Fair enough. Would you expect, though, that black two-parent families would condone drug use more than black single parents? That is the mystery.