Although the myth still exists, African-American (and Asian) adolescents are less likely than their white peers to abuse or become addicted to drugs and alcohol, according to a study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry and reported by The Boston Herald.

For the study, researchers analyzed confidential surveys from more than 72,000 youth, ages 12 to 17, filled out during 2005 to 2008. (The sample came from all 50 states.) Survey questions concerned how the young people used substances and whether such use caused at least one problem, such as a legal or relationship issue. Substance dependence was identified if teens meet several criteria from a list; sample criteria include: inability to cut down, willingness to give up other activities and continued use despite having problems.

Researchers found about 9 percent of white teenagers used substances in ways that indicated disorders or dependencies. That percentage was twice the percentage for black teens and nearly three times the rate for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.

Scientists also found that across all groups, 37 percent reported using drugs or alcohols in the last year and 8 percent met the criteria for substance abuse disorder. (Among kids who abused illegal substances, marijuana was the drug of choice.)

Although earlier studies showed that in some groups or in certain areas black teens were less likely than white teens to have drug problems, no study used such a wide and representative sample as this one.

“It’s very hard when you look at data like this to say we don’t have a problem," said Dan Blazer, MD, MPH, of Duke’s Department of Psychiatry, the study’s senior author. “Then it becomes sort of an imperative to do something.”

This study will now serve as a jump-off point for further studies into topics such as the reasons substance use and disorders are less common in some groups, Blazer added. Plus, the finding should inform policymakers’ decisions about how to fight teen drug problems.

What’s also interesting is that black teens seem to be abstaining from smoking. Could it be all about the Benjamins? Click here to learn more.