Prescription Drug Abuse a Disturbing Trend Among Hispanic Youth

Prescription Drug Abuse a Disturbing Trend Among Hispanic Youth

ONDCP, SAMHSA and Community Based Organizations Bring Parents New Bilingual Resources


Dallas, TX–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–July 26, 2006–Recent data show that abuse of prescription drugs such as pain-relievers and stimulants is a disturbing trend among Hispanic youth, and parents are not aware of the dangers. Today, the Deputy Drug Czar, Hispanic community leaders, and experts announced efforts to raise parent awareness in the Hispanic community and combat this troubling trend.

In 2005, one in five (21%), or 581,000 Hispanic teens, had tried prescription medication to get high. Abuse of psychotherapeutics among Hispanic youth increased by 16 percent from 2003-2004. Even more alarming, almost half (45%) of Hispanic teens believe that prescription medicines, even if they are not prescribed by a doctor, are much safer to use than illicit drugs.

Although research shows that Hispanic teens listen to their parents when it comes to drugs, almost a third of Hispanic youth (28%) say that in the last year their parents or grandparents never talked to them about drugs. And Hispanic parents are not as aware as other parents of the growing threat of prescription drug abuse. Only 32 percent of Hispanic parents see taking prescription medication to get high as a problem among teens.

To help close the gap, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) today launched a national print ad campaign in several markets across the country and announced the availability of two new bilingual resources for Hispanic parents and other caregivers at a press conference. The ad speaks to parents about the need to keep the lines of communication open with their children and talk to them about the dangers of drugs in spite of the challenges of acculturation. The new materials, part of a comprehensive library of free bilingual resources already available for families and community organizations, are designed to address the cultural importance of family in the Hispanic community and its benefits as a drug deterrent. The resources offer practical advice and techniques that parents can use to prevent drug use.

“Most teenagers struggle as they begin to exert their independence and define their personalities, but these challenges can be amplified among Hispanic teens with the added stress of trying to balance two cultures,” said José Szapocznik, Ph.D., University of Miami. “Parents, who are also trying to navigate through a new culture and language, can help their teens achieve the individuality that they desire by emphasizing family values and maintaining open lines of communication.”

“We recognize that there are cultural challenges and misperceptions by both parents and teens that prescription medicines are not risky,” said Mary Ann Solberg, Deputy Director of ONDCP. “We also recognize that particularly in the Hispanic community, parents are the most important influence in their child’s decision about drug use, and what they say and do can make a difference. By understanding the risks, communicating with their children, and most importantly, setting rules and clear expectations, parents can do their part to reduce risky behaviors among their children.”

The new materials include a brochure, “Keeping Your Teens Drug Free: A Guide For Hispanic Families / Manteniendo a sus Adolescentes Libres de Drogras: Una Guía Para las Familias Hispanas” and a two-disc DVD titled “Life in the Community for All / Vida en la Comunidad Para Todos” produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The materials are available free of charge and can be ordered by parents, teachers, community based organizations, and others by visiting, or calling toll-free at 1-877-SIN-DROGAS.

The open letter ad was signed by 11 organizations, including ASPIRA; U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USHCC); Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); Las Comadres Para Las Americas; the National Compadres Network; the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA); MANA, A National Latina Organization; the National Hispanic Medical Association; the Partnership for a Drug-Free America; and Univision Communications Inc. The ad will run in the top 14 Hispanic media markets and will also appear in “VISTA” magazine, reaching more than one million readers through 34 Spanish and Metro newspapers across the country.

Since its inception in 1998, ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents, teens and communities to prevent and reduce teen drug use. Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit community service organizations, volunteerism and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.

For more information on the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, visit or

Prescription Drug Abuse a Disturbing Trend Among Hispanic Youth