Drug use and service utilization among Hispanics in the United States

Michael A Mancini, Christopher P Salas-Wright, Michael G Vaughn
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2015, 50 (11): 1679-89

PURPOSE: To examine illicit drug use and service utilization patterns of US-born and foreign-born Hispanics in the United States.

METHODS: Hispanic respondents 18 years and older in the NESARC were categorized as being of Mexican (n = 3,556), Puerto Rican (n = 785), Cuban (n = 346), Central American (n = 513), or South American (n = 381) origin. We examined lifetime prevalence of drug use and substance abuse treatment utilization patterns for US-born and Hispanic immigrants across subgroups.

RESULTS: Lifetime prevalence of drug use was greater among US-born Hispanics than Hispanic immigrants after controlling for age, gender, income, education, urbanicity, parental history of drug use problems and lifetime DSM-IV mood/anxiety disorders. Both US-born and immigrant Hispanic drug users were less likely than non-Hispanic white drug users to have utilized any form of substance abuse treatment (US-born AOR = 0.89, immigrant AOR = 0.64) and more likely to have utilized family or social services (US-born AOR = 1.17, immigrant AOR = 1.19). Compared to US-born Hispanic drug users, Hispanic immigrant drug users were less likely to have used any form of substance abuse treatment (AOR = 0.81) and were more likely to have utilized family or social services (AOR = 1.22).

CONCLUSION: Strategies to increase engagement and retention of Hispanic drug users in substance abuse treatment include increasing access to linguistically and culturally competent programs that address unmet family and social needs. Further studies examining differences in drug use and service utilization patterns within Hispanic subgroups are needed.

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