Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 75-92

First online:

Cultural context and substance abuse in Hispanic adolescents

  • Andres J. PumariegaAffiliated withDivision of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of South Carolina School of Medicine
  • , Jeffrey W. SwansonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Duke UniversityUniversity of Texas Medical Branch at GalvestonCecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • , Charles E. HolzerAffiliated withUniversity of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • , Arthur O. LinskeyAffiliated withUniversity of Texas-Pan American Edinburg
  • , Ruben Quintero-SalinasAffiliated withDepartmento de Salud Mental, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas

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Much emphasis has been placed on the significant substance abuse problem being faced by Hispanic as well as other minority youth in the United States. However, little research has focused on the relative importance of culturally determined factors in the development of substance abuse in Hispanic youths. In this study, we propose an approach to measuring cultural factors through the activity orientations that youths endorse. We studied over 4000 Mexican-American and Mexican youths living along the U.S.-Mexico border with respect to their recent drug use, problem drug use, depressive symptomatology, and their activity orientation. While culturally related activity orientation does significantly increase risk for substance abuse, we found that symptoms of distress/depression and sociodemographic factors exerted a stronger effect on these youths.

Key words

substance abuse Mexican-American youth cultural factors sociodemographic factors depressive symptomatology