Fatherhood roles and drug use among young American Indian men.


BACKGROUND: High rates of substance abuse among young American Indian (AI) fathers pose multigenerational challenges for AI families and communities. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe substance use patterns among young AI fathers and examine the intersection of substance use with men's fatherhood roles and responsibilities. METHODS: As part of a home-visiting intervention trial for AI teen mothers and their children, in 2010 we conducted a descriptive study of fatherhood and substance use on three southwestern reservations. Substance use and parenting data were collected from n = 87 male partners of adolescent mothers using audio computer-assisted self-interviews. RESULTS: Male partners were on average 22.9 years old, primarily living with their children (93%), unmarried (87%), and unemployed (70%). Lifetime substance use was high: 80% reported alcohol; 78% marijuana; 34% methamphetamines; 31% crack/cocaine; and 16% reported drinking binge in the past 6 months. Substance use was associated with history of alcohol abuse among participants' fathers (but not mothers); participants' poor relationships with their own fathers; unemployment status; and low involvement in child care. CONCLUSION: Drug and alcohol abuse may be obstructing ideal fatherhood roles among multiple generations of AI males. SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: Targeting drug prevention among young AI men during early fatherhood may provide special opportunity to reduce substance use and improve parenting. Intergenerational approaches may hold special promise.