Substance use among school-based youths in Puerto Rico: Differences between gender and grade levels

William W. Latimer, Leah J. Floyd, Marco Vasquez, Megan O'Brien, Abigail Arzola, Nancy Rivera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined substance use rates among adolescents in Grades 7-12 in Puerto Rico. Nine hundred eighty-nine students completed the Spanish version of the International Survey of Adolescent Health. More than 50% of middle school youths and 75% of high-school youths reported lifetime alcohol use. Female gender was associated with tobacco use in middle school while male gender was associated with marijuana use in high school. High-school females reported lower rates of tobacco use and marijuana use than middle-school females. High-school males exhibited substantially higher drug-use rates than middle-school males for each substance. These findings may suggest that universal drug prevention interventions may be needed for females in Puerto Rico before they enter middle school, while targeted interventions aimed at high-risk females who continue to smoke tobacco or marijuana may be more effective during high school. In contrast, targeted drug prevention interventions for males probably need to begin in middle school and be maintained if not increased in intensity throughout the high-school years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1659-1664
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol
  • Gender differences
  • Hispanic
  • Marijuana
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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