Research & Resources

The Association Between Racial Attitudes, Alcohol Use and Mood Disorders Among Black Adolescents

Alcohol is the most widely used substance among adolescents. Although Black adolescents use alcohol at lower rates than White adolescents, Black adolescents tend to have worse outcomes. Understanding the relationship between racial attitudes (towards one’s own group and others), substance use, and mental health can provide unique and meaningful insight into prevention programming for Black adolescents. This study examined the association between racial attitudes and alcohol use and mood disorders in Black adolescents in Philadelphia, PA. Researchers used the Adolescent Survey of Black Life to measure pro-Black attitudes (positive attitudes toward being Black and factors related to Black people), anti-White attitudes (negative attitudes toward White people due to experiences of racism and discrimination), and racism awareness (recognition of racism). Results showed that higher pro-Black attitudes were associated with lower odds of mood disorder and higher racism awareness was associated with increased odds of alcohol use. These findings provide preliminary support for alcohol use and mood disorder prevention strategies, interventions, and policies for Black adolescents that bolster positive racial identity and eliminate experiences of racism.

This paper, “The association between racial attitudes, alcohol use and mood disorders among black adolescents,” was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director; and the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) and published in the Journal of prevention.

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