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Subst Use Misuse. 2009;44(8):1160-82. doi: 10.1080/10826080802544133.

Mexican-heritage preadolescents' ethnic identification and perceptions of substance use.

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  • 1Michigan State University, Department of Communication, 479 Communication Arts Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


This paper examines the relationship between ethnic identification and substance use for 1,346 Mexican-heritage preadolescents in a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded study in Phoenix, Arizona (2004-2005). Participants ranged from 9 to 13 years old, 49% reported their gender as male, 33% self-identified as Mexican, and 67% as Mexican American, and 91% of the students reported taking part in the free or reduced-price lunch program. Questionnaire responses were analyzed by fitting regression models. Analyses showed that ethnic identification may play a protective role, with stronger ethnic identification related to more antidrug norms, less positive drug expectations, stronger refusal efficacy, and less intent to use substances. While gender did not significantly moderate the relationships, ethnic identification appears more broadly related to antisubstance-use norms for Mexican-born than U.S.-born participants. This study presents important implications for substance-use prevention research among Mexican heritage preadolescents. Finally, limitations of the study are noted.

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