Fifty percent of adolescents have tried an illicit drug and 70% have tried alcohol by the end of high school, with even higher rates among multiracial youth. Ethnic identity is a protective factor against substance use for minority groups. However, little is known about the mechanisms that facilitate its protective effects, and even less is known about this relationship for multiracial youth. The purpose of the present study was to examine the protective effect of ethnic identity on substance use and to determine whether this relationship operated indirectly through self-esteem, a strong predictor of substance use for among adolescent populations. Participants included 468 multiracial youth in grades six through 12 (53% female). The results found that ethnic identity was indeed related to substance use, partially through changes in self-esteem. Findings from this study contribute to our understanding and development of models of risk and protection for an understudied population.
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This research was supported by NIH award DA05312 to Sycarah Fisher and NIH award KL2TR001106 to Tamika Zapolski.
Fisher, Sycarah; Zapolski, Tamika C. B.; Sheehan, Chelsea; and Barnes-Najor, Jessica, "Pathway of Protection: Ethnic Identity, Self-Esteem, and Substance Use Among Multiracial Youth" (2017). Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology Faculty Publications. 26.