This study examines the relative influence of race/ethnicity, acculturation, peer substance use, and academic achievement on adolescent substance use among different Asian American ethnic groups and U.S. racial/ethnic groups. Data from the Wave 1 in-home sample of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was used to examine lifetime use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana in a full adolescent sample of all racial/ethnic groups (N = 20,745) and a subsample of Asian American adolescents (N = 1,248). Path analysis examined the hypothesized relationships of peer substance use and acculturation as risk factors and academic achievement as a protective factor for racial/ethnic groups. The results indicated that when Asian American adolescents were compared to other major U.S. racial/ethnic groups, peer use and acculturation were both significant mediators of smoking, drinking, and marijuana use, and academic achievement mediated each type of use at a trend level. For Asian American ethnic groups, peer use is a risk factor and, to a lesser extent, academic achievement is a protective factor for substance use. Also, although acculturation is a predictor of substance use, when peer use and academic achievement are taken into account, acculturation - like ethnicity - no longer predicts use. Mediation analyses indicated that peer substance use mediates smoking, drinking, and marijuana use; academic achievement does not; and acculturation mediates substance use for some substances and some Asian American ethnic groups. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for understanding how culturally specific approaches can inform preventive interventions.
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