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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
July/August 2010, Volume 18, Number 4 

Alcohol, Illicit Drug Use among Asian Adults Lower than National Average

Asian adults age 18 or older overall have far lower rates of alcohol, binge drinking, and illicit drug use than the national average, according to a recent NSDUH report from SAMHSA.

Substance Use among Asian Adults shows that:

  • Past-month alcohol use among Asian adults is 39.8 percent versus a national average of 55.2 percent.
  • Past-month binge drinking among Asian adults is 13.2 percent versus a national average of 24.5 percent.
  • Past-month illicit drug use among Asian adults is 3.4 percent versus a national average of 7.9 percent.
cover of Substance Use among Asian Adults - click to view publication

In addition, Asian adults have half the rate of past-year need for substance use treatment as the national average (4.8 versus 9.6 percent).

The report also found that significant differences exist in rates of substance use among adults age 18 or older in various Asian populations.

For example, the past-month binge drinking rate among Korean adults is three times higher than among Chinese adults (25.9 versus 8.4 percent). Similarly the rate of past-month illicit drug use among Japanese adults is nearly three times higher than the rate among Asian Indian adults (6.2 versus 2.1 percent).

Rates Vary Depending on Birthplace

According to the report, Asian adults born in the United States have much higher substance use rates than Asian adults born outside the U.S. For example, the past-month binge drinking level among U.S.-born Asian adults is nearly double that of their foreign-born counterparts (22.0 versus 11.1 percent).

The past-month illicit drug use level among U.S.-born Asian adults is nearly triple the rate found among foreign-born Asian adults (7.3 versus 2.5 percent).

These higher rates for Asian adults born in the United States generally held regardless of age group.

Download Substance Use among Asian Adults.

Past-Month Substance Use among Asians Age 18 or Older Compared with the National Average: 2004 to 2008

Enlarge image

bar chart showing past-month substance use among Asians age 18 or older - click to enlarge image

* The difference between Asians and the national average is statistically significant at the .05 level.

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies (May 20, 2010). Figure 2. Past-Month Substance Use among Asians Age 18 or Older Compared with the National Average: 2004 to 2008. Substance Use among Asian Adults. Rockville, MD.

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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road – Rockville, MD 20857
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