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Hispanics High On Life, Not Drugs, Alcohol

 ROCKVILLE, MD - A new national study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that Hispanic-American adults have lower levels of current alcohol use than the national average (46.1 percent versus 55.2 percent). Hispanic-American adults also have lower levels of current illicit drug use than the national average (6.6 percent versus 7.9 percent), but a slightly higher level of current binge drinking (26.3 percent versus 24.5 percent).

Hispanic-American adults also have a slightly higher rate of past year need for alcohol treatment than the national average (8.7 percent versus 8.1 percent). About 7.9 percent of Hispanic-American adults needing alcohol treatment in the past year received it at specialty facilities, about the same rate as the national average of 8.2 percent.

The SAMHSA study also shows there are significant differences in rates of substance use among various Hispanic-American adult populations. For example, Spanish-American adults have a level of past month alcohol use above the national average, and 50 percent higher than the rate for Dominican–American adults (60.8 percent versus 40.3 percent). Similarly, the rate of current illicit drug use among Spanish-American adults is nearly three times higher than the level among Dominican-American adults (13.1 percent versus 3.9 percent). Current binge drinking rates among Hispanic-American adult populations range from a high of 28.7 percent among Puerto Rican adults to 20.8 percent among Central or South American –American adults.

The study also shows that U.S. born Hispanic-American adults have much higher substance use rates than Hispanic–Americans adults born outside the U.S. For example, the past month binge drinking level among U.S. born Hispanic-American adults is almost a third higher among native born Hispanic-Americans than among their foreign born counterparts (57.7 percent versus 37.2 percent), and the past month illicit drug use level among U.S. born Hispanic-American adults is more than triple the rate found among foreign born Hispanic-Americans (11.3 percent versus 3.0 percent).

The study was developed as part of the agency’s strategic initiative on prevention as well as data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to create an integrated data strategy that informs policy makers and service providers on the nature and scope of behavioral health issues. It is one in a series of studies designed to provide more detailed information on substance abuse patterns and treatment needs existing within a wide range of minority groups.

“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,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. 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.”

Substance Use among Hispanic Adults is based on data drawn from the 2004 to 2008 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, involving responses from 227,791 persons aged 18 or older, including 31,848 Hispanic-American adults. The full report is available on line at:http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k9/164/Hispanics.htm


SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

 



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