Objective: Polysubstance use among adolescents is a significant public health concern, yet most studies on adolescent substance use focus on a singular substance. This study is one of the first to investigate the association between perceived racial discrimination (PRD) in school and polysubstance use among racial/ethnic minority adolescents using a nationally representative sample. Methods: Data was from the 2021 Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey. The sample included 4145 racial/ethnic minority adolescents (52.8% female). Hierarchical binary logistic regression was used to examine the association between PRD in school and polysubstance use among racial/ethnic minority adolescents. Results: About 12% of racial/ethnic minority adolescents engaged in polysubstance use and 23.4% reported experiencing PRD in school sometimes/most of the time/always. Controlling for other factors, experiencing PRD in school sometimes/most of the time/always was associated with 1.52 times higher odds of polysubstance use when compared to adolescents who never experienced PRD in school (OR=1.52, p=.044, 95% CI=1.01–2.30). Cyberbullying victimization, symptoms of depression, and being emotionally abused by a parent during COVID-19 were also associated with polysubstance use. Conclusion: Controlling for demographic characteristics and psychosocial stressors, PRD in school was significantly associated with higher odds of polysubstance use among racial/ethnic minority adolescents. The findings of this study could inform clinicians and policymakers of the association between PRD in school and polysubstance use, which could contribute to early identification of polysubstance use among racial/ethnic minority adolescents.
- Perceived racial discrimination
- Polysubstance use
- Racial/ethnic minority