Prevention Science

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 57–65 | Cite as

Etiology and Prevention of Substance Use Among Asian American Youth

  • Tracy W. Harachi
  • Richard F. Catalano
  • Sunah Kim
  • Yoonsun Choi


Among populations identified by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, it is anticipated that the Asian/Pacific Islander (API) population will experience the greatest change between 1990 and 2050 (U.S. Bureau of the Census. [1996, February]. Current population reports. Series P25-1130. Washington, DC: U.S. Government printing office). Limited studies focus on APIs as a racial group and still fewer disaggregate samples to specific ethnic Asian subgroupings. This paper begins with definitions of the API communities, then examines rates of adolescent drug use, risk and protective factors, and preventive intervention effectiveness focused on API communities. The limited epidemiological data suggest that in general, APIs are at a relatively lower risk for drug use than youth from most other ethnic groups. However, the available data also suggest that use may not be as low as generally assumed with rates for alcohol use, smoking, and some illicit drugs being equal to or exceeding those of African Americans and European Americans. Despite the paucity of available data on particular Asian subgroups, the available data demonstrate that there are differences among API subgroups, underscoring the importance of identifying Asian subgroups when studying substance use and when planning prevention and treatment. The limited data examining the etiology of drug use across API subgroups suggests that some of the risk and protective factors derived from majority based research may also be predictors for these populations. These data support the utility of examining the generalizability of existing tested prevention approaches among different API communities. Finally, further efforts should be made to encourage and support the evaluation of community-based programs that already target and deliver services to API youth.

etiology prevention substance use Asian American youth 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy W. Harachi
    • 1
  • Richard F. Catalano
    • 1
  • Sunah Kim
    • 1
  • Yoonsun Choi
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattle

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