A Comparison of Cambodian-American Adolescent Substance Use Behavior to National and Local Norms

Published in: Addictive Behaviors, v. 39, no. 12, Dec. 2014, p. 1874-1878

Posted on RAND.org on August 25, 2014

by Eric R. Pedersen, Grant N. Marshall, Terry L. Schell, Eunice C. Wong, Sarah Megan Berthold, Katrin Hambarsoomian

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INTRODUCTION: This study was designed to compare rates of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette use in Cambodian-American adolescents with norms from nationally- and regionally-representative peers. METHODS: Substance use data from 439 10th grade Cambodian-American adolescents in Long Beach, California were compared to grade- and gender-matched nationally representative data from the Monitoring the Future study and data from the California Healthy Kids Survey of students within the same school district. RESULTS: Overall, the Cambodian-American youth were less likely than nationally- and regionally-representative youth to use alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. Specifically, relative to estimates obtained for the general population and students attending school in the same school district, Cambodian-American youth were significantly less likely to use alcohol and marijuana. Cambodian-American youth were also less likely than youth in the general population to smoke cigarettes, but did not differ statistically from youth within their same school district. CONCLUSIONS: As a group, Cambodian-American youth may not be at especially high risk for substance use. As is the case with virtually all populations, some individuals within the Cambodian-American group are likely to have more difficulty than others with substance use concerns. Thus, additional research is needed to identify factors that might help to identify high users with potential service needs.

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