Substance use and sexual risk behaviors among adolescent detainees

Patria Rojas, Florida International University


There is a commonly presumed link among sexual risk behavior, substance use, and other psychosocial factors among adolescents. However, these relationships have been relatively understudied in detained, low-income, minority, substance abusing adolescents. This study addresses this gap in the literature with a secondary data analysis based on a sample of adolescent offenders in two detention and treatment centers in Miami-Dade County. Univariate, bivariate statistical analysis and multivariate logistic regressions were conducted on baseline data from structured interviews with 455 adolescents participating in an NIH funded prevention intervention. Data were analyzed to assess relationships among self-reported substance use, STD history, HIV/AIDS knowledge, condom use, condom use attitudes, and skills, peer and parental approval to use condoms, and race/ethnicity. The adolescent sample was 74.1% male, and 25.9% female and 35.4% African American, 25.1% non-African American Latino, 11.2% White, and 28.4% of other race/ethnicity categories. The mean age was 15.6 years. Results suggested that alcohol use (p < 0.001) and use of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs (p < 0.001) are significant variables when explaining the variability in sexual risk behaviors. Results also suggested that unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex increased with higher alcohol and drug use (p < 0.001) and that positive attitudes about personally using condoms (p < 0.001) were also significantly related to condom use. Logistic regressions showed that race/ethnicity was a significant control variable when explaining the variability of condom use. Being White and Latino were significantly associated with less condom use during oral and anal sex when compared to other racial/ethnic groups. These results indicated that risky sexual behavior and HIV infection risk are significantly associated with substance use, particularly alcohol use. Therefore, proper screening and identification of alcohol use, and condom use attitudes could maximize the efficacy of referrals to programs targeting both issues and increase the potential for appropriate primary and secondary prevention and treatment among adolescent detainees.

Subject Area

Social work|Public health|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Rojas, Patria, "Substance use and sexual risk behaviors among adolescent detainees" (2007). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3305952.