Substance Use Trends Among Blacks

Bottles of alcohol on a bar counterIt doesn’t matter if you’re a superstar like Rick James or an everyday person from your neighborhood, substance abuse can take over your body and your life. Rates of past month alcohol use and binge alcohol use were lower among black adults aged 18 or older than the national average for adults (44.3 vs. 55.2 percent and 21.7 vs. 24.5 percent, respectively); the rate of past month illicit drug use, however, was higher among black adults than the national average (9.5 vs. 7.9 percent).

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The rate of need for treatment for an alcohol use problem in the past year among black adults was similar to that of the national average among adults (7.7 and 8.1 percent); however, the rate of need for treatment for an illicit drug use problem was higher among blacks than the national average (4.4 vs. 2.9 percent)

One in seven (14.2 percent) black adults in need of alcohol treatment in the past year and 24.2 percent of those in need of illicit drug treatment received treatment at a specialty facility; both of these rates were higher than the national averages for adults

Over the past several decades, the population of the United States has become increasingly diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about one third of the population belongs to a racial/ethnic minority group; this percentage is projected to increase to 54 percent by 2050.

As the country becomes more diverse, it becomes increasingly important to address health and health care disparities related to race/ethnicity, as well as age and gender, socioeconomic status, geography, and disability. The Nation’s success in reducing these disparities today, to a large extent, will determine the health of our Nation tomorrow.

One area of concern is assessing substance use and abuse and ensuring access to substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse affects millions of people every year and has untold health, social, and economic costs for individuals, families, and communities. Although it affects people in all racial/ethnic groups, research has shown that there is considerable variation among these groups.

Gaining a better understanding of the behavioral health needs of particular racial/ethnic groups can help inform public health policy, build prevention and treatment programs that target the different needs of these populations, and ultimately ensure that services are available to all individuals who need them.

This report uses data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) to examine substance use and treatment need among non-Hispanic black or African American adults (hereafter referred to as “black adults”) aged 18 or older.

Later reports in this series will examine similar issues among black adolescents and among adults and adolescents in other racial/ethnic groups. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 37 million people—12.2 percent of the total population in 2008—identify themselves as non-Hispanic blacks of one race.

The first section of this report provides trends in substance use using NSDUH data from 2002 to 2008; the remaining sections present annual averages using combined data from 2004 or 2005 to 2008.

 For more information, visit SAMHSA.

Why Are Steroids So Bad For You?

A baseball on baseball turf with a steroid injectionWhat are steroids, and why are they so bad for you?

These days, you constantly hear about some new sporting scandal involving the discovery that a popular athlete has been using steroids.

What’s the big deal, right?

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What Are Steroids?

There are two different types of steroids: anabolic steroids and corticosteroids.

  • Anabolic steroids are used to build up muscle.
  • Corticosteroids are used to dampen overactive immune responses and reduce swelling.

The anabolic steroids abused by athletes are synthetic versions of testosterone, a male hormone. Both men and women naturally produce testosterone. Hormones help regulate many of the body’s basic functions, which is why, when they’re out of balance, either naturally or because of hormone drug use, it can cause a wide range of dangerous consequences.

What Are The Side Effects Of Steroids?

Anabolic steroids can affect the entire body. Some of the side effects are common to all users, while other are more related to gender and age.

Men who take anabolic steroids may:

  • Suffer from sex performance issues
  • Develop breasts
  • Get painful erections
  • Have their testicles shrink
  • Have decreased sperm count
  • Become impotent

Women who take anabolic steroids may:

  • Grow excessive face and body hair
  • Have their voices deepen
  • Experience menstrual irregularities
  • Have an enlarged clitoris
  • Have reduced breast size
  • Have a masculinized female fetus

Both men and women who take anabolic steroids may:

  • Get acne
  • Have an oily scalp and skin
  • Get yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • Become bald
  • Have tendon rupture
  • Have heart attacks
  • Have an enlarged heart
  • Develop significant risk of liver disease and liver cancer
  • Have high levels of “bad” cholesterol
  • Have mood swings

Since steroids are often taken by injections, there is also the risk of getting HIV or hepatitis infection from an unsterile needle or syringe.

Are Steroids Illegal?

Yes. Without a doctor’s prescription for a medical condition, it’s against the law to possess, sell, or distribute anabolic steroids.

Legal prosecution can be a serious side effect of illicit steroid use. Under federal law, first-time simple possession of anabolic steroids carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. For first-offense trafficking in steroids, the maximum penalty is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Second offenses double this penalty. In addition to federal penalties, state laws also prohibit illegal anabolic steroid use.

Are Steroids Ever Okay?

Doctors prescribe anabolic steroids to treat certain specific medical conditions, such as muscle wasting in AIDS, or to treat delayed puberty. For example, they may be used to treat the muscle wasting seen in AIDS.

It is important to note that doctors are not allowed to prescribe steroids to enhance a person’s athletic performance.