skip navigation

Text Only

SAMHSA News - January/February 2004, Volume 12, Number 1
 

Acculturation Increases Risk for Substance Use by Foreign-Born Youth

foreign-born youth

Foreign-born youth report lower rates of substance use than U.S.-born youth, but their risk for substance use increases the longer they live in the United States, according to the findings of a new SAMHSA study published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The article, "Substance Use Among Foreign-Born Youths in the United States: Does the Length of Residence Matter?" is written by Joseph C. Gfroerer and Lucilla L. Tan of SAMHSA' Office of Applied Studies. The authors discovered that foreign-born youth who had lived in the United States less than 5 years had lower prevalences of substance use than young people who were born in the United States. Yet, prevalence estimates for foreign-born youth who had lived in the United States for 10 years or longer were not significantly different than estimates for U.S.-born youth, except that U.S.-born youth reported substantially higher rates of heavy alcohol use.

The study reinforces the results of previous studies pointing to lower rates of substance use among foreign-born youth compared with U.S.-born youth, but increased risk of use as they become assimilated within American society. What makes this study unique is that it offers the first national estimates of the prevalence of substance use among foreign-born youth age 12 to 17. It also explores the relationship between acculturation, which is defined in this study as the length of time a young person has lived in the United States, and substance use.

"A better understanding of these results could be gained by studying how acculturation interacts with known risk and protective factors for substance use," the authors state
in the article. "Research in this area should help prevention planners design programs that appropriately consider acculturation to reduce substance use among immigrant youth."

Acculturation within U.S. society occurs through interaction with parents and peers, education, and exposure to television, movies, magazines, and other media—each of which may influence a young person' attitudes about substance use. The authors suggest that youth who are more fluent in English may have more access to substances of abuse because they are more familiar with ways to find and obtain substances of abuse in the community. For example, prevalence estimates for Hispanics were higher among those who responded in English than those who answered questions in Spanish.

The study was based on a sample of 50,947 young people who participated in SAMHSA' 1999 and 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an ongoing nationally representative survey of the civilian, noninstitutional population age 12 and older.

Respondents could answer questions in either English or Spanish. Some 7.1 percent of those in the sample were foreign-born, and of those, 28.4 percent were born in Mexico, 5.1 percent in Germany, 4.6 percent in the Philippines, and 3.0 percent in India, Vietnam, and Korea (North and South). End of Article

« See Also—Previous Article

See Also Related Material—Past-Month Substance Use Among Foreign-Born Youth Age 12 to 17 vs. U.S.-Born Youth »

See Also—Next Article »

Back to Top


Inside This Issue

SAMHSA Helps Reduce Seclusion and Restraint at Facilities for Youth
  •  
  • Part 1
  •  
  • Part 2
    Related Content:  
  •  
  • Demonstration Sites
  •  
  • Resources

    Acculturation Increases Risk for Substance Use by Foreign-Born Youth
    Related Content:  
  •  
  • Past-Month Substance Use Among Foreign-Born Youth Age 12 to 17 vs. U.S.-Born Youth

    Ready for HIPAA? SAMHSA Can Help
    Related Content:  
  •  
  • HIPAA Compliance Resources

    SAMHSA Simplifies, Clarifies Grants Process
    Related Content:  
  •  
  • Discretionary Grant Categories

    In Brief…
  •  
  • Events
  •  
  • Publications

    SAMHSA Offers New Resource for Helping Homeless Persons with Mental Disorders

    Report Cites Reasons for Not Receiving Substance Abuse Treatment

    SAMHSA "Short Reports" on Statistics

    SAMHSA News

    SAMHSA News - January/February 2004, Volume 12, Number 1



    Go to SAMHSA Home Page

    This page was last updated on 28 February, 2003
    SAMHSA is An Agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
    Email Questions to info@samhsa.hhs.gov   Click for text version of site

    Privacy Statement  |  Site Disclaimer  |  Accessibility