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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Relationship Between Substance Use and Socioeconomic Variables in Pennsylvania Adolescents: 2009-201

Monday, June 15, 2020  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Shah V, Watson J.
Relationship Between Substance Use and Socioeconomic Variables in Pennsylvania Adolescents: 2009-2017.
[published online ahead of print, 2020 May 27]. Subst Use Misuse. 2020;1‐11. doi:10.1080/10826084.2020.1771594

Purpose: The goal of the current study is to analyze the substance use trends in Generation Z youth (in both middle and high school environments) and to determine if any correlation exists between substance use behaviors and demographic variables. Methods: Analysis is based on substance use data collected through the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) from 2009 to 2017 and the 2016 US census data. Results: Our results suggest that substance use in Gen Z adolescents is mainly linked to alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, vaping, and narcotic prescription drugs. Alcohol is the most prevalent high-risk substance used by 12th grade students with 69.8% of students having consumed alcohol over their lifetime. Vaping is the next highly used substance with 28.9% of students in 12th grade having vaped 30 day prior to the survey. There is a significant correlation among adolescents between smoking cigarettes and using smokeless tobacco. A student using either alcohol, cigarettes or smokeless tobacco is highly likely to use the other two substances as well. Adolescents from counties with a high Caucasian population were at high risk for cigarette and smokeless tobacco use, while the opposite held true for counties with a high number of foreign-born persons or higher Asian or Hispanic populations. Higher median household incomes and higher adult education levels in a county were both protective factors against smokeless tobacco use. Conclusions: Results of the study suggest that students start experimenting with high-risk substance use in early grades and to combat the prevalence, we suggest the importance of educating adolescents of the dangers of drug use in early grades.

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