Research & Resources

Neighborhood Conditions Impact Substance Use Initiation Among Latinx and African American Adolescents

This study is a secondary analysis of data from the Denver Child Study, a retrospective survey that uses a natural experiment to assess neighborhood effects on developmental outcomes of Latinx and African-American adolescents. Researchers tested the effects of cumulative exposure to neighborhood social disorder (presence of dangerous conditions in the neighborhood), neighborhood violent crime rates and property crime rates, and neighborhood social capital (social connectedness and involvement in local organizations that inclines individuals to do things for each other) during preadolescence on the likelihood of initiating alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use during adolescence. The study also tested whether the effects of these cumulative neighborhood factors varied by Latinx and African-American ethnicity. Among surveyed adolescents, 5.6 percent initiated cigarette use, 5.4 percent initiated alcohol use, and 5.2 percent initiated marijuana use. Results indicated that exposure to neighborhood social disorder during preadolescence is a significant risk factor, especially for the initiation of cigarette use, particularly among Latinx adolescents.
This paper, “Cumulative Exposure to Neighborhood Conditions and Substance Use Initiation among Low-Income Latinx and African American Adolescents,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and published in the International journal of environmental research and public health. 
Link to full item