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Latino/a substance abuse/dependency: effects of assimilation

The over-representation of Latinos/ as in alcohol and drug related criminal statistics suggests that Latinos/as may have a higher propensity for substance use, and even more so, for substance abuse/dependency. Research on Latino/ a substance abuse/dependency is mixed and a variety of cultural and/or social psychological explanations have been forwarded to explain differences in substance abuse/dependency between Latinos/as and Whites. Results from a Nebraska needs assessment project show Latinos/as having a significant lower probability for substance abuse/dependency in comparison to their White counterparts. Moreover, predictors of substance abuse/dependency differed between the two groups. Social psychological variables are better predictors of substance abuse/dependency for Whites, whereas assimilation variables are better predictors of substance abuse/dependency for Latinos/as. Seemingly paradoxical, criminal justice encounters proved to be the best predictor of substance abuse/dependency for Latinos/as. Overall, however, findings suggest that acculturation to the dominant core culture of U.S. society increases the probability of substance abuse/dependency for Latinos/as.

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