03 Aug Major Differences in Substance Abuse Trends among Hispanic-American Groups
Statistically, Hispanic-Americans have lower alcohol and drug consumption rates than the U.S. national average. Yet the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found a rise in binge drinking rates among Hispanic-American groups that is now higher than the national average.
The new national study measured current alcohol use, current illicit drug use, and current binge drinking habits among several Hispanic-American groups, including Mexican-Americans, Central or South Americans, Dominican-Americans, Spanish-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans, as well as these groups as a whole in comparison with the national average.
Overall, SAMHSA found that Hispanic-Americans have a lower current alcohol use rate than the national average (46.1% versus 55.2%), and lower current illicit drug use rate than the national average (6.6% versus 7.9%). However, their binge drinking rate has now exceeded the general U.S. population’s rate (26.3% versus 24.5%). Likewise, the need for alcohol treatment among Hispanic-Americans rose above the national average (8.7% versus 8.1%), but the percentage of Hispanics who are in need of treatment and actually seek specialty treatment was quite similar to the general public’s rate (7.9% versus 8.2%).
In the study, disparities arose among specific Hispanic groups’ consumption of alcohol and illicit substances. For example, Spanish-American adults’ current alcohol use rate is above the national average, and 50% higher than Dominican-Americans’ alcohol use rate (60.8% versus 40.3%); Spanish-Americans’ current illicit drug use is also much higher than the rate Dominican-American rate (13.1% versus 3.9 percent), nearly a threefold difference; and Puerto Ricans had the highest rate of current binge drinking (28.7%), while Central or South American adults had the lowest current binge drinking rate among Hispanics (20.8%).
Similarly, SAMHSA also found much higher rates of substance abuse occurring among U.S.-born Hispanic-Americans compared to Hispanic-Americans who were born in their native countries. For instance, U.S.-born Hispanic-Americans have a significantly higher current binge drinking rate than foreign-born Hispanic-Americans (57.7% versus 37.2%), and U.S.-born Hispanic-Americans’ current rate of illicit drug use is three times higher than the rate of foreign-born Hispanic-Americans (11.3% versus 3.0%).
According to its study, SAMHSA finds that as Hispanic groups become more acculturated to the American culture, the more they are developing substance abuse patterns similar to the national average. In terms of their substance use, immigrant groups pose differing health challenges and needs than U.S.-born Hispanic-Americans. By using this research data, SAMHSA hopes to reform intervention and treatment services so that the needs of all these individuals are equally met. This may involve the implementation of more diverse prevention and treatment campaigns that cross cultural lines.
Currently, U.S. Hispanic-Americans represent 13% of the country’s population. However, because Hispanic-Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the American population, the U.S. expects this group to represent 25% of the national population by 2050. Furthermore, because of their growing presence in the population, SAMHSA finds it very important to trace Hispanic-Americans’ substance abuse trends to help understand what behavioral health risks are impacting the population the most, what intervention techniques are proving most effective, and to predict what services will be needed most or improved upon for the future.
Source: SAMSHA, Nationwide Study Reveals Significant Differences in Adult Substance Use Rates among Various Hispanic-American Groups, August 2, 2010
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