In the United states, few substance abuse prevention approaches have proven effective in reducing substance use among adolescents in general, and even fewer have been evaluated for their effectiveness with ethnic minority youths (Forgey, Schinke, and Cole, 1997; Gorman, 1998). In addition most drug prevention programs are created by and for European Americans and tested primarily on minority youth. It has been suggested that the failure of many prevention programs can be traced to their lack of cultural sensitivity (Hanson, Miller, & Leukefeld, 1995; Palinkas, et.al., 1996). Most drug resistance programs are evaluated in traditional school settings, excluding the youth at highest risk for drug use/abuse. Therefore, this study will take place in community settings wit youth from high-risk neighborhoods and high-risk environmental conditions.


To determine the effectiveness of the prevention videos as tools with youths in Texas, to explore the relevant culture and related resistance strategies (as categorized by the videos depicting Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave strategies or REAL) of Texas youth and to explore resistance strategies among youth in a setting other that schools (i.e. community centers, alternative learning programs, and homeless centers and shelters). This project will serve as a pilot to a follow-up study addressing culturally grounded drug resistance strategies with a sample of youth throughout the Untied States.


This exploratory study focuses on the comparison between Texas youth in varied community settings with regards to identification with the drug resistance strategies and videos as well as the unique characteristics of high risk youth outside of the school setting. The methods include quantitative pretest/posttest design as well as qualitative focus groups before and after the intervention.


This pilot study explores issues of culture and alcohol and other drug use in relation to substance abuse prevention with high-risk youth, with a particular interest in Latinos/as and acculturation. Many of the prominent prevention studies are school based, missing some of the youth at very highest risk for alcohol and drug use and abuse. Consequently, this study was conducted in community settings with youth from high-risk neighborhoods and environmental conditions including a homeless youth shelter, an alternative learning setting, and a low income community program. The data indicated a high lifetime prevalence of drug use (over 80% for Whites and Latinos for beer, wine, liquor, and marijuana), with consistently lower prevalence rates observed among African-Americans. In addition, the study found significant ethnic differences in substance use (last 30 days) in the sample (median age = 16), with African-Americans reporting significantly lower incidence of marijuana and cocaine use (p < .05) than other youth. Further psychometric analyses examined: 1) the internal consistency reliability of AOS and MOS dimensions among ethnic subgroups of youth, and 2) whether AOS and MOS composite scores would differentiate among Anglo, African American, and Hispanic youth. As respondents answered both AOS and MOS items, it was possible to examine ethnic differences via a 3 (ethnicity) x 2 (AOS/MOS) Repeated Measures ANOVA. A significant interaction effect was obtained, indicating that African Americans and Hispanic youth scored significantly lower than Anglos on the AOS, while Anglos and African Americans scored significantly lower than Hispanics on the MOS. Overall, AOS and MOS measures differentiated ethnic subgroups of youth. These findings demonstrate a high prevalence of substance abuse in these communities (i.e., non-school) settings, highlighting both the importance of programs targeting these youth as well as highlighting the need to bridge prevention and intervention in these settings. This project laid the groundwork for Dr. Holleran-Steiker’s K01 research on culture and substance abuse prevention, see other studies.

Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research in Underserved Populations, The University of Texas at Austin


Holleran, L.K., Taylor-Seehafer, M.A., Pomeroy, E. C., & Neff, J.A. (2005). Substance abuse prevention for high risk youth: Exploring culture and alcohol and drug use. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 23 (2/3), 164-184.