Characteristics of Mexican and Mexican American adolescents in treatment for "cheese" heroin use

Robrina Walker, Jane Carlisle Maxwell, Bryon Adinoff, Thomas Carmody, Casey E. Coton, Carlos F. Tirado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Clinical and cultural characteristics of Hispanic adolescent heroin users are not well described. The current exploratory study was conducted to describe a sample of in-treatment Hispanic adolescents with opioid dependence, specifically, cheese heroin. Mexican and Mexican American adolescents with heroin dependence (N = 72) in three treatment programs were interviewed and completed self-report measures. Participants reported, on average, first using cheese heroin at age 13.5 years and daily use at age 14.2 years. The majority (74%) reported a previous overdose. Adolescents being raised by caregivers other than both biological parents, who used drugs with relatives, and whose immediate family members have documentation to be in the United States fared worse on several indicators of drug use severity and other risky behaviors. The self-reported brief time period from first use to daily use strongly suggests the need for early prevention efforts. Additional research is needed to add to these preliminary results and inform prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-272
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Hispanic
  • adolescents
  • family characteristics
  • heroin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


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