Research & Resources

Pathways Linking Ethnic Discrimination and Drug-Using Peer Affiliation to Underage Drinking Status Among Mexican-Origin Adolescents

Using a three-wave longitudinal data set of 602 Mexican-origin adolescents, this study examined the associations between underage drinking status by late adolescence and, separately, early exposure to ethnic discrimination or affiliation with drug-using peers in early adolescence. Early exposure to ethnic discrimination was related to a higher likelihood of having engaged in underage drinking by late adolescence through elevated negative emotions/poor self-concept sustained across adolescence. No association was found between affiliation with drug-using peers in early adolescence and underage drinking status, either directly or indirectly. These findings suggest that alcohol use interventions targeting ethnic minority adolescents should account for adolescents’ ethnic discrimination experiences by helping them develop adaptive coping strategies to handle negative emotions/poor self-concept induced by discrimination rather than using alcohol to self-medicate.

This paper, “Pathways linking ethnic discrimination and drug-using peer affiliation to underage drinking status among Mexican-origin adolescents,” was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and published in the journal Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology.

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