MONDAY, June 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) — American Indian students who live on or near reservations are at high risk for substance use versus U.S. youths in general, according to a study published online May 31 in JAMA Network Open.

Randall C. Swaim, Ph.D., and Linda R. Stanley, Ph.D., both from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, surveyed 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students (570, 582, and 508, respectively) who attended participating schools on or near reservations during the 2016 to 2017 school year. Substance use rates were compared with those of a national sample of similarly aged students from the Monitoring the Future study.

The researchers found that American Indian students reported substantially higher lifetime and last-30-day substance use rates, compared with students participating in Monitoring the Future. The greatest disparity was seen at 8th grade: last-30-day substance use relative risks (RRs) were 2.1 for alcohol, 4.2 for marijuana, and 2.4 for other illicit drugs. The RRs between American Indian and Monitoring the Future students for the 2016 to 2017 school year compared with 2009 to 2012 data did not change substantially for lifetime alcohol and marijuana use, but increased substantially for other drugs, from 1.8 to 3.0.

“Without increased attention to these disparities, the costs to American Indian youths and their communities will remain high,” the authors write.

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