The Crossover Effect: a Review of Racial/Ethnic Variations in Risk for Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder Across Development
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Purpose of Review
The “crossover” effect, a phenomenon by which some minority groups switch from low to high risk for substance use as a function of age, was first documented 25 years ago. However, rigorous methodological research examining the crossover effect has only recently emerged. The current paper reviews the past 25 years of research on the crossover effect, which has primarily examined the shift from low to high substance use risk among Blacks relative to Whites.
Although findings regarding the crossover effect vary based on gender, socioeconomic status, and substance, Blacks and Hispanics appear to be at lower risk for some substance use—particularly binge drinking and cigarette smoking—than Whites during adolescence and early adulthood, but at higher risk for use in later life. Research regarding the crossover effect of substance use disorder and related problems is limited but more consistent with a similar pattern of effects observed.
Due to significant limitations of the extant literature examining the crossover effect, it requires additional research to clarify sociodemographic differences in the effect, identify its mechanisms, and determine its clinical implications. Such research may have important implications for preventing racial/ethnic disparities in the consequences associated with disordered substance use.
KeywordsEthnic minorities Racial minorities Substance use Substance use disorder
Tamika Zapolski has received funding from National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse awards R25DA035163, P30DA027827, and K01DA043654.
Devin Banks has received funding from National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse award F31DA044728.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major Importance
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