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Increased drug use among old-for-grade and dropout urban adolescents

  • Mark F. Guagliardo
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Mark F. Guagliardo, PhD, Children’s National Medical Center, Dept. of Pediatrics, George Washington University, 111 Michigan Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20010
    Affiliations
    Department of Pediatrics (Guagliardo), George Washington University, Children’s National Medical Center, 111 Michigan Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20010 USA
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  • Zhihuan Huang
    Affiliations
    Department of Epidemiology (Huang), George Washington University, Children’s National Medical Center, 111 Michigan Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20010 USA
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  • Jocelyn Hicks
    Affiliations
    Clinical Support Services and Laboratory Medicine (Hicks), Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010 USA
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  • Lawrence D’Angelo
    Affiliations
    Dept. of Prevention and Community Health (D’Angelo), George Washington University, 111 Michigan Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20010 USA

    Primary Care Services (D’Angelo), Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010 USA
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      Abstract

      Introduction: In tracking the epidemic of drug use in our communities, much emphasis has been placed on identifying predictive variables. In this study, we examine the relationship between drug use and school progress among a sample of inner-city adolescents.
      Methods: A blinded, anonymous questionnaire covering a variety of health risk behaviors was administered to 1,720 adolescent patients who visited our outpatient clinic. Participants were classified as age-appropriate for last school grade completed, older than normal for grade, or as a dropout. A urine specimen was also collected in a blinded, anonymous fashion from each participant, and tested for five common substances of abuse.
      Results: Nearly 12% of participants tested positive for drugs. Participants who were old for grade were over 40% more likely to be positive for drugs than grade-appropriate respondents, while school dropouts were more than twice as likely to test positive.
      Conclusions: These results demonstrate that being old-for-grade (OFG) and being a dropout in our population are markers for being at higher risk of substance abuse.

      Keywords

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