Latinos At Heightened Risk for Anxiety and Addiction Due to Adverse Circumstances
A new study published in the Journal of Addiction and Prevention found that both immigrants and U.S.-born Latinos encounter disparaging circumstances that may result in anxiety and addiction:
“Latinos are exposed to adverse psychosocial factors that impact their health outcomes. Given the heterogeneity and rapid growth of this population, there is an urgent need to understand the mechanisms through which psychosocial factors impact substance abuse and anxiety between immigrant and U.S. born Latino adults. “
The study began by offering two important statistics: the 2014 National Census indicated that 55 million Latinos were living in the U.S. Also, the number of Latinos is growing at a rate of three times the rest of the population – making them both the fastest growing and largest minority group.
National data reveals that less than 10% of the Latino population had a substance addiction diagnosis in 2010. However, in the years between 2003-2010, Latinos had lower rates of drug addiction treatment enrollment than European-Americans (9% vs. 10.5%.) The study also noted that 75% of Latios suffered from both anxiety and addiction disorders.
About the Study
The study included 131 persons who had completed treatment for substance abuse and examined the differences between affiliation to American culture, association with important people, formal education, employment, and length of substance use.
Most participants were men, and nearly half were born outside of the U.S.
Findings revealed that a closer affiliation to American culture was associated with drug abuse, while years of formal schooling and longer periods of full-time employment were linked to decreased anxiety among immigrants.
Lead researcher Roberto Lopez-Tamayo, DePaul University:
“The finding that more years of formal education and being gainfully employed was not associated with stress among the immigrant group
Given that the literature…suggests that the longer immigrants reside in the U.S. the longer they resemble their U.S.-born counterparts, I was expecting to find an association between the above factors.”
Conversely, close association with American culture and regular contact with influential people were related to fewer years of drug abuse, while long periods of full-time employment were associated with drug use in those born in the U.S. Anxiety and drug use were also associated with U.S. natives.
Researchers believe that because Latino immigrants experience more adverse circumstances, these elements may increase the risk of illicit drug and alcohol use. These circumstances may include lower levels of culture assimilation, decreased English aptitude, less education and job opportunities, and impaired social structure due to being separated from family.
“We live in a data-driven world, where funding for services is distributed based on need. Without scientific studies that indicate what distal factors …existing would continue to promote abstinence-based on a one-size-fits-all model. More importantly, future research should inform public policy that aims to reduce socioeconomic disparities that affect Latino subgroups.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology