Substance Abuse Rates Low in Hispanic Americans: U.S. Report

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) — Hispanic-American adults have lower rates of alcohol and illicit drug use than the national averages, a federal government study has found.

The research revealed that 46.1 percent of Hispanic-American adults drink alcohol and 6.6 percent use illicit drugs, compared with national average rates of 55.2 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.

However, Hispanic-American adults have a slightly higher level of binge drinking (26.3 percent versus 24.5 percent) and a slightly higher past-year need for alcohol treatment (8.7 percent versus 8.1 percent), according to a news release from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The study also found significant differences in rates of adult substance use among various Hispanic-American groups. For example, the level of past month alcohol use among Spanish Americans is above the national average and 50 percent higher than among Dominican Americans (60.8 percent versus 40.3 percent, respectively). And the rate of current illicit drug use among Spanish Americans is nearly three times higher than the level among Dominican Americans (13.1 percent versus 3.9 percent, respectively).

Substance use rates are much higher among U.S.-born Hispanic Americans than those who were born outside the United States. For example, past-month binge drinking was reported by 57.7 percent of U.S.-born Hispanic Americans and 37.2 percent of those born outside the United States, while the rate of past-month illicit drug use was 11.3 percent for those who were U.S.-born and only 3 percent for those who were foreign-born, according to the findings.

For this study, researchers analyzed data from 227,791 people (including 31,848 Hispanic Americans), aged 18 or older, who took part in the 2004 to 2008 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

“Hispanic Americans are one of the fastest growing communities in our country and include a vast array of diverse populations — each with a unique set of behavioral health strengths, challenges and needs,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in an agency news release.

“This study and others indicate that as ethnic and immigrant populations become more acculturated into our national culture, they tend to develop many of the same behavioral health challenges faced by the general population. Through a more detailed understanding of this diverse community we can better tailor our prevention and treatment strategies to reach all of its members,” she added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Hispanic/Latino populations.