Sun S. Kim(1), David Kalman(1,2), Gerardo Gonzalez(1) and Douglas Ziedonis(1)
1. University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
2. Edith Nourse Memorial Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA
Immigration and Mental Health: Stress, Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Behavior Among Immigrants and Refugees. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2010, 350 pages.
The purpose of this chapter is to describe substance use disorders among immigrants based on a review of literature conducted in the United States. This chapter consists of three parts: the first part covers the definition of substance use disorders and a brief description of biological and psychosocial aspects of addiction; the second part is a review of empirical literature; and the third part is conclusion of the chapter. Thirty two studies of U.S. immigrants are reviewed. About 65.0% (13/20) of the studies with adults and 50.0% (6/12) of the studies with adolescents were conducted exclusively with Hispanics; studies with other immigrants are scarce. Findings are consistent across subgroups of Hispanics, with the exception of Puerto Ricans, that immigrants are less likely to have substance use disorders than U.S. natives. Due to lack of studies with African and Asian immigrant groups, findings are inconclusive about these groups. The majority of studies with African, Asian, and European Americans report findings in aggregated data of all groups without ethnic-specific information on subgroups. Acculturation is the variable that has been most frequently studied in relation to substance use disorders among immigrants. Importantly, the level of acculturation is strongly associated with sociodemographic factors (e.g., gender and age), and socioeconomic factors (e.g., education and family income). More studies are needed to determine how to modify maladaptive processes contained in some trajectories of acculturation into American culture that may increase substance use, especially among female immigrants and their female offspring. In addition, future research should focus on developing interventions that are designed to foster the retaining of protective cultural norms against substance use prevalent of an ethnic group within the immigrant community.