Rates of Substance Use of American Indian Students in 8th, 10th, and 12th Grades Living On or Near Reservations

According to a recent study, American Indian youth start using substances younger and are two to three times more likely to use heroin and OxyContin than non-native youth.

Since national surveys do not normally collect data from those living on or near reservations, little can be said for substance use in those areas, although it is known that American Indian communities are often plagued by these issues. In order to gain more insight, a team of National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded prevention researchers at Colorado State University analyzed data from the American Drug and Alcohol Survey given to American Indian students at 33 schools on or near reservations in 11 states between 2009 and 2012. That data was compared to nationwide stats from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey.

Between 2009 and 2012, 56.2 percent of American Indian 8th graders and 61.4 percent of 10th graders had used marijuana, compared to 16.4 percent of 8th graders and 33.4 percent of 10th graders in the MTF survey. American Indian students’ yearly heroin and OxyContin use was about two to three times higher than the national average in those years, as well.

The study also showed that past-month alcohol use among 8th grade American Indian students was nearly twice as high as those surveyed in the MTF – 27.4 compared to 13.8. However, among 10th and 12th graders, the rate is lower among American Indian students compared to MTF participants.

Although American Indian 12th graders use less alcohol than those surveyed in the MTF, current marijuana use for American Indian 12th graders was at 35 percent, higher than the 21.5 percent in the MTF.

When it comes to regular — daily or near-daily — marijuana use by American Indian 8th graders, 8 percent said they regularly used, compared to 1.3 percent of MTF 8th graders; 14 percent of American Indian 10th graders reported regular use compared to 3.6 percent in the MTF; and 15.3 percent of American Indian 12th graders reported regular use, compared to 6.6 percent in the MTF.

Population of focus: American Indian students in middle and high school living on or near a reservation

Links to resource:

Date: 2014

Journal: Public Health Rep.