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Stereotype-Smashing Study Shows White Youth Most Likely to Abuse Hard Drugs

Research published in the American Journal of Public Health has conclusively disproved the stereotype that black youth are more likely to abuse drugs than their white counterparts.

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The study, conducted by Northwestern University over the course of 12 years, covers racial differences among drug users, and adds to the many questions as to why there is such a high rate of imprisonment among people of color.

The Department of Justice reports that, of black males born in 2001, one in three will be incarcerated at some point in their lives, compared to one in six Hispanics. For white youth, the number drops significantly to one in 17.

Researchers found that "hard drugs" (opiates, amphetamines, etc.) are “less common among delinquent African-American youth than those who are non-Hispanic white.”

Over the course of the study, the team interviewed 1,829 youths (1,172 males and 657 females between the ages of 10 to 18) who were detained at Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago between  1995-1998.

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The study continued for 12 years, as researchers re-interviewed the individuals up to nine times, throughout their 20’s. It was determined that non-Hispanic white youth were 30 times more likely than African-American youth to use cocaine. Hispanic youth were 20 times more likely than black youth to use the drug.

"Those findings are striking considering the widely accepted stereotype of African Americans as the most prevalent abusers of 'hard drugs,'" senior author of the study Linda A. Teplin, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told AlterNet.

"Our findings add to the growing debate on how the war on drugs has affected African Americans," Teplin asserted. "We found that African Americans are less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to abuse hard drugs. Yet African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated for drug crimes."

All racial groups shared one common theme however, as marijuana was the most popular and widely-used intoxicant. They also found that, as people aged, their preferences tended to shift toward alcohol.

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