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Minorities and Drugs

Overview / Extent of Use / Health Effects / Treatment / Arrests & Sentencing / Other Links / Sources

Overview

According to the 2006 American Community Survey, the estimated the population of the United States was 299,398,485. The population breakdown was 73.9% white, 12.4% black/African American, 0.8% American Indian/Alaska Native, 4.4% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander, 6.3% some other race, 2.0% two or more races. An estimated 14.8% of the population was of Hispanic/Latino origin (of any race). 1

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Extent of Use

The 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that the highest rate of current (past month) illicit drug use was among American Indian/Alaska Natives (13.7%), followed by blacks/African Americans (9.8%), persons reporting two or more races (8.9%), whites (8.5%), Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders (7.5%), and Hispanics (6.9%). The lowest rate of current illicit drug use was among Asians (3.6%). 2

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys high school students on several risk factors including drug and alcohol use. The 2007 report showed that 21.5% of black, 19.9% of white, 18.5% of Hispanic, and 17.2% of "other" race high school students were current marijuana users. 3

Reported Drug Use by High School Students, by Race/Ethnicity, 2007

Drug Use White Black Hispanic Other

Lifetime marijuana

38.0%

39.6%

38.9%

32.9%

Current marijuana

19.9

21.5

18.5

17.2

Lifetime cocaine

7.4

1.8

10.9

6.5

Current cocaine

3.0

1.1

5.3

4.0

Lifetime inhalant

14.4

8.5

14.1

12.6

Lifetime heroin

1.7

1.8

3.7

2.9

Lifetime methamphetamine

4.5

1.9

5.7

5.2

Lifetime Ecstasy

5.6

3.7

7.4

5.8

Lifetime illegal steroid

4.1

2.2

4.6

3.1

Marijuana before age 13

7.2

9.5

9.8

9.9

According to 2006 findings from the Monitoring the Future study, African-American 8th, 10th and 12th grade students have substantially lower usage rates for most illicit drugs when compared to white students. Hispanics generally have rates of use for many drugs that tend to fall between usage rates for whites and blacks. However, Hispanic seniors have the highest rate of lifetime usage for powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin with and without a needle, methamphetamine, and crystal methamphetamine ("ice"). 4

According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than half of black State and Federal prisoners surveyed in 2004 indicated that they used drugs in the month before their offense. 5

Percent of Prisoners Reporting Drug Use, 1997 and 2004

State Prisoners Federal Prisoners

1997

2004

1997

2004

White

55.2%

57.7%

49.4%

58.2%

Black

58.3

56.0

47.2

52.7

Hispanic

55.0

53.5

37.5

38.4

Other

52.7

52.9

38.5

48.4

According to additional data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately half of black prisoners in State prisons and more than 40% in Federal prisons surveyed in 2004 met drug dependence or abuse criteria. 6

Drug Dependence or Abuse Among State and Federal Prisoners, 2004

State Federal

White

59.1%

59.2%

Black

50.1

43.8

Hispanic

51.0

33.6

Other

50.7

47.2

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Health Effects

A National Vital Statistics Report found that 28,723 persons died of drug-induced causes in 2003. Of the drug-induced deaths, 3,527 were black, 2,358 were Hispanic and 22,245 were white. Drug-induced deaths include deaths from dependent and nondependent use of drugs (legal and illegal use) and poisoning from medically prescribed and other drugs. It excludes unintentional injuries, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to drug use. Also excluded are newborn deaths due to mother's drug use. 7

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Treatment

According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), more than 20% of those admitted to treatment facilities in the U.S. during 2006 were black (non-Hispanic). 8

Race/Ethnicity of Treatment Admissions, 2006

Race/Ethnicity Percent

White

59.4%

Black

21.3

Hispanic origin

14.0

Mexican

5.8

Puerto Rican

3.8

Cuban

0.4

Other/not specified

3.9

Other

5.3

Alaska Native

0.1

American Indian

2.2

Asian/Pacific Islander

1.0

Other

2.0

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Arrests & Sentencing

There were a total of 1,376,792 state and local arrests for drug abuse violations in the United States during 2006. Of these drug abuse violation arrests, 63.6% of those arrested were white, 35.1% were black, 0.7% were Asian or Pacific Islander, and 0.6% were American Indian or Alaskan Native. 9

In FY 2004, the U.S. Marshals Service arrested and booked 140,755 total suspects for Federal offenses, 23.6% of which were for drug offenses. Of these arrestees booked by the U.S. Marshals Service for drug offenses, 66.1% were white, 31.0% were black/African American, 0.1% were Indian/Alaska Natives and 1.9% were Asian/Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Also in FY 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested 27,454 individuals. Of those arrested by the DEA, 67.7% were white, 29.2% were black/African American, 0.6% were Indian/Alaska Natives and 2.5% were Asian/Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Additionally, 42.4% of those arrested by the DEA in FY 2004 were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 10

DEA Arrests, by Race/Ethnicity and Type of Drug, FY 2004

Drug Category

White

Black

Indian

Asian

Hispanic

Powered cocaine

4,648

2,273

26

49

3,943

Crack cocaine

695

3,161

22

25

300

Marijuana

4,573

1,017

56

122

2,882

Methamphetamine

5,367

141

60

191

2,197

Opiates

1,398

833

5

18

1,311

Other or non-drug

1,726

500

5

272

497

During FY 2006, there were 25,763 Federal defendants charged with a drug offense whose race was reported to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Approximately one quarter (25.8%) of these defendants were white, 29.2% were black, and 41.7% were Hispanic. Individuals of another race made up 3.2% of these drug cases. The drug most often involved in Hispanic cases was Heroin. Methamphetamine was the most common drug type for whites and crack cocaine was the most common drug type for blacks. 11

At yearend 2004, there were an approximate total of 1,274,600 sentenced State prison inmates, 249,400 of whom were incarcerated for drug offenses. The majority of drug offenders held in State prisons were black (112,500), followed by whites (65,900), and Hispanics (51,800). 12

During 1995 there were a total of 2,065,896 State and local probationers; of that total, 20% (414,832) were on probation for a drug offense. White probationers (73%) had the highest rate of prior drug use, followed by black probationers (68%) and Hispanics (56%). Drug use at the time of the offense was similar for white (14%) and black (15%) probationers, and lowest for Hispanics (11%). 13

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Other Links

Special Population Office (SPO) Web site
SPO addresses training and career development needs of minorities in drug abuse research and ensures that minority issues in drug abuse research are adequately represented.

Office of Minority Health (OMH)
The mission of OMH is to improve the health of racial and ethnic populations through the development of effective health policies and programs.

Minorities and Drugs Publications
A listing of publications about minorities and drugs from various sources.

Racial & Ethnic Groups Data
This SAMHSA site provides data on drug abuse among racial and ethnic groups.

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Sources

1 U.S. Census Bureau Web Site, 2006 American Community Survey

2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings ), 2007

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance: Youth Online: Comprehensive Results

4 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2006 (PDF), May 2007

5 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004 , October 2006

6 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004 , October 2006

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deaths: Final Data for 2003 (PDF), April 2006

8 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Highlightsó2006 , February 2008

9 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States, 2006 , September 2007

10 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2004, December 2006

11 United States Sentencing Commission, 2006 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics , 2007

12 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (PDF), December, 2007

13 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Substance Abuse and Treatment of Adults on Probation, 1995 , March 1998

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