The Role of Empowerment-Based Protective Factors on Substance Use Among Youth of Color

David T. Lardier, Ijeoma Opara, Robert J. Reid, Pauline Garcia-Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Youth of color continue to be disproportionately affected by the consequences of engaging in high rates of daily substance use. Racial-ethnic minority adolescents are often viewed through a deficit lens. There is limited research that examines the strengths of these young people and their communities as a prevention strategy to lower rates of drug use. Using an empowerment-based framework, this study examines the role of intrapersonal and cognitive psychological empowerment, community civic engagement, and ethnic identity on 30-day drug use among a sample of youth of color (N =383; 53.1% Female; 75% Hispanic), between 14 and 18 years of age, from a northeastern urban community. Structural equation modeling was used to test indirect and direct associations between constructs. Results revealed that both intrapersonal and cognitive psychological empowerment were associated with lower rates of 30-day substance use mediated by ethnic identity and community civic engagement. Findings from this study contribute to the social work field by highlighting the importance of strengths-based approaches to improving health outcomes and decreasing risky behaviors such as drug use among youth of color.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • 30-day substance use
  • Civic engagement
  • Cognitive empowerment
  • Ethnic identity
  • Intrapersonal empowerment


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