Examining the Protective Effect of Ethnic Identity on Drug Attitudes and Use Among a Diverse Youth Population

Tamika C.B. Zapolski, Sycarah Fisher, Devin E. Banks, Devon J. Hensel, Jessica Barnes-Najor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Ethnic identity is an important buffer against drug use among minority youth. However, limited work has examined pathways through which ethnic identity mitigates risk. School-aged youth (N = 34,708; 52 % female) of diverse backgrounds (i.e., African American (n = 5333), Asian (n = 392), Hispanic (n = 662), Multiracial (n = 2129), Native American (n = 474), and White (n = 25718) in grades 4–12 provided data on ethnic identity, drug attitudes, and drug use. After controlling for gender and grade, higher ethnic identity was associated with lower past month drug use for African American, Hispanic, and Multiracial youth. Conversely, high ethnic identity was associated with increased risk for White youth. An indirect pathway between ethnic identity, drug attitudes, and drug use was also found for African American, Hispanic, and Asian youth. Among White youth the path model was also significant, but in the opposite direction. These findings confirm the importance of ethnic identity for most minority youth. Further research is needed to better understand the association between ethnic identity and drug use for Multiracial and Hispanic youth, best ways to facilitate healthy ethnic identity development for minority youth, and how to moderate the risk of identity development for White youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1702-1715
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017



  • Alcohol
  • Drug attitudes
  • Ethnic identity
  • Marijuana
  • Minorities
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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