In its March 2010 volume, the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse published a study on adolescent drug dealing among white and black youths. The study found white youths who deal drugs are likely to be drug users whereas black youths who deal are principally motivated by financial gain.
Big drugs on campus
The study compiled data from nearly 14,000 black and white youths age 12 to 17 completed the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among white youths, drug dealing and drug use were entwined. White youths reported using primarily marijuana but also listed prescription drugs, cocaine—when available—and hallucinogens. Among black youths, marijuana and, when available, crack cocaine were associated with drug dealing. With respect to prescription drugs, more than 40 percent of high school seniors said they bought the pills from a friend or relative.
Males, marijuana, Rx and Status
The study found five percent of the households received public assistance. More than three percent of the youths surveyed admitted to dealing drugs. Among whites, males were twice as likely to deal drugs as females. Of the adolescent black males surveyed, nearly six percent admitted to selling drugs, compared to just one percent of adolescent black females. The study found white and black males who used marijuana were more likely to sell drugs. According to the study, black youths who use marijuana are 13 times more likely to deal drugs than black youths who don’t use the drug. White adolescents who abused prescription drugs were three times more likely to sell drugs than white youths who did not abuse prescription drugs.
The study then examined the socioeconomic status of the participants. The authors found that among black youths, there was no connection between receipt of government assistance and drug dealing. But the study findings get muddy when addressing individual level measures of socioeconomic status. According to the authors, the current research builds upon prior studies by the National Bureau of Economic Research that found a correlation between status—as represented by economically disadvantaged neighborhoods—and drug dealing. With respect to white youths receiving government assistance, the study found these individuals were less likely to engage in drug dealing than white youths not receiving government aid.
Treatment and prevention
The authors postulate that since drug use is such an integral component of drug dealing among white adolescents, drug treatment may reduce drug dealing. Conversely, the authors state that because drug use is mainly limited to marijuana among black adolescents who deal drugs, more research is required to identify prevention strategies. The authors freely admit the limitations of the scope of the study. One of their more telling editorial comments, particularly as it relates to white adolescents, is they have no way of knowing if substance abuse preceded drug dealing.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, overall drug use among adolescents is down, but heroin use and prescription drug abuse is increasing. If your son or daughter is using drugs, call 866-45-1557. We can help.