A cross-national study of preadolescent substance use: Exploring differences between youth in Spain and Arizona

Maria Angeles Luengo, Stephen Kulis, Flavio Marsiglia, Estrella Romero, José Antonio Gómez-Fraguela, Paula Villar, Tanya Nieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study aims to comparatively examine drug use in Arizona and Spain, in order to know if similarities and differences in drug use patterns justify the administration in Spain of U.S. prevention intervention programs. Data were obtained from independent samples of seventh-grade students recruited from urban public schools and surveyed in 1998: 4,035 ethnically diverse Arizona students (Latinos and non-Hispanic Whites), and 2,243 Spanish-White students. Comparisons using Odds ratios and Chi-square tests allowed assessment of differences in drug use rates between preadolescents in Arizona and Spain taking into account gender. Furthermore, ethnicity differences in preadolescent drug use and in psychosocial risk factors were explored using multivariate analysis (ANOVA and logistic regression). Our results showed similar trends in drug use between Arizona and Spain students, with gateway drugs already in use by early adolescents, and with higher rates of drug use among males than among females. However, cross-national differences in marijuana/cannabis use were noteworthy: Arizona preadolescents were over 25 times more likely to report marijuana/cannabis use than preadolescents from Spain. Moreover, when ethnic differences were considered, Latinos in Arizona reported higher marijuana/cannabis use compared with non-Latino students. Drug use patterns among Latino preadolescents, as well as the relevance of some risk factors among the diverse groups, were strongly influenced by their level of acculturation. Study limitations and the implications of our findings for early drug use prevention and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1571-1593
Number of pages23
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Arizona
  • Cross-national
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Preadolescents
  • Spain
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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