'Americanization' Linked to Increase in Illicit-Drug Use Among Hispanics

Hispanic immigrants considered to be “acculturated” to American social norms are almost 13 times more likely to use illicit drugs than Hispanics who remain un-acculturated, researchers say.

The Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer reported Aug. 11 that Oregon State University researcher Scott Atkins reported the findings from a survey of 6,713 adults in the state of Washington, including 1,690 Hispanics, at a recent meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“In general, recent Hispanic immigrants are more family-oriented and have less tolerant views of drug and alcohol use,” Akins said. “Although acculturation and assimilation will provide some migrants with benefits such as wealth and job stability, immigration and acculturation can be a difficult process which has negative consequences as well.”

Past-month use of illicit drugs was found to be less than one percent among non-acculturated, Spanish-speaking Hispanics, compared to 7.2 percent of acculturated Hispanics and 6.4 percent of whites surveyed. “When Hispanics acculturate to dominant American society their substance use behavior appears to mimic that of whites, the culture they are acculturating to,” noted Akins.

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