Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders Among Mexican Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites by Immigration Status

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Objective: To compare prevalence rates of alcohol, nicotine, and other drug use and major psychiatric disorders (major depressive disorder, persistent depression, bipolar I disorder, agoraphobia, social and specific phobias, and antisocial, schizotypal, and borderline personality disorders) between US-born and foreign-born Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites and between early entry versus later-entry foreign-born Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites.

Methods: Data were derived from face-to-face interviews in the 2012–2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (N = 36,309).

Results: US-born Mexican Americans and US-born non-Hispanic whites were at greater risk (P < .05) of alcohol, nicotine, and any drug use and their associated disorders and other DSM-5 psychiatric disorders relative to their foreign-born counterparts. US-born non-Hispanic whites were more likely (P < .05) to use substances and develop many psychiatric disorders relative to US-born Mexican Americans. Foreign-born Mexican Americans < 18 years old at immigration were at greater risk of drug use, drug use disorders, and nicotine use disorder compared with foreign-born Mexican Americans 18 years old at immigration. Foreign-born non-Hispanic whites < 18 years old at immigration were more likely to use substances and to develop many psychiatric disorders relative to foreign-born non-Hispanic whites 18 years old at immigration.

Conclusions: Taken together, the findings of this study support the healthy immigrant hypothesis and adverse role of acculturation for US-born and foreign-born Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites. Further research is warranted on immigration status and age at arrival into the United States and those processes underlying differential exposure to substances and development of psychiatric conditions. An understanding of these processes can be invaluable to clinicians in guiding culturally sensitive and informed prevention and intervention efforts.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2019;21(1):18m02359

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.18m02359