Friday, August 24, 2007

Substance Abuse, Race, and Gender

Interesting study on racial discrimination and substance abuse:

Although racial discrimination was far less common in Whites (38%) than in African Americans (89%), the researchers assessed whether parallel associations exist in Whites and found similar associations with smoking, alcohol, and lifetime use of marijuana and cocaine as they did in African Americans. Thus, substance use may be an unhealthy coping response to perceived unfair treatment for some individuals regardless of their race/ethnicity. "However, it is worth noting that racial discrimination may be a different phenomenon for African Americans than it is for Whites, and thus, lead to very different consequences," said Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD, of the Mailman School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology and principal investigator of the study.

African Americans experiencing racial discrimination also reported having more education, higher income, and a stronger social network than those reporting no racial discrimination. In contrast to African Americans, Whites reporting racial discrimination reported less education and lower income than did those who reported none. Similar to African Americans, Whites reporting any discrimination were more likely to report less control of their life, more anger, less emotional support, and more negative interactions than did their counterparts reporting none.


Among the strengths of the study are its population-based nature, the focus on young to middle-aged adults, the wide ranges of educational attainment and income, the information on illicit substance use, and socioeconomic position indicators. "It is possible that use of a recreational drug helps to cope with life stress resulting from perceived unfair treatment because of one's race/ethnicity," observed Dr. Borrell. "Our findings that current use of marijuana was not related to discrimination and that risk of being a former smoker was increased suggest that, by early middle age (average age, 40 years), people may have found other ways to cope. However, the finding of an excess of current smoking in this population, suggest that this addictive habit may be long lasting, even when alternative coping behaviors are adopted."

Source of the data was the CARDIA study, a prospective study of cardiovascular risk among young adults. 3,330 persons aged 18--30 years examined at baseline (1985-1986) and re-examined again seven (1992-1993) and 15 years (2000-2001) later in the (CARDIA) Study were included in this study.

And in other substance abuse news:

Men who work long hours or in high stress jobs are more likely to smoke, according to a new University of Melbourne study.

The study finds that men who work more than 50 hours a week are over twice as likely to smoke as their counterparts working regular full-time hours.

These men double their risk yet again, if they have jobs which are demanding and over which they have low levels of control.

Smoking among female workers is linked most strongly to being in a physically demanding job.

The top study would imply that this might apply to other, less deadly but more illegal substance abuse as well.

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