Alcohol use and depression among African-American and Caucasian adolescents

John W. Maag, Deborah M. Irvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine differences in reported alcohol use and depressive symptomatology among a sample of 524 African-American and Caucasian adolescents. Of specific interest was determining if ethnicity, gender, and age predicted severity of scores obtained on the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (RADS) and Adolescent Drinking Index (ADI). Extreme groups were formed using upper (> 75%) and lower (< 25%) quartiles. Three other groups were formed using each instrument's normatively derived cutoff scores: depressed only (RADS > 77), heavy drinking (ADI > 16) and mixed (RADS > 77, ADI > 16). Several results were obtained. First, Caucasians obtained significantly higher scores on the ADI than African-Americans, although no differences were obtained for the RADS. Females scored higher on the RADS but lower on the ADI than males. In terms of extreme scores, females were less likely to belong to the severe depression group, while older adolescents in general and African-Americans in particular had a greater probability of belonging to the heavy-drinking group. Finally, using RADS and ADI cutoff scores, females were less likely than males to belong to the depression only group as were African-Americans. Older adolescents, in general, and African-Americans in particular had a greater probability of belonging to the mixed group than did their counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages15
Issue number157
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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