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Perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among

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Abstract Using a predominately Mexican-origin Latino sample of 5th grade students from the Southwestern United States, this study examined the relative effects of perceived discrimination and acculturation stress on substance use, and it assessed whether these effects were moderated by linguistic acculturation or time in the United States. Spanish-dominant and bilingual youth perceived more discrimination than English-dominant youth, whereas youth who have been in the United States five or fewer years perceived more discrimination than youth with more time in the United States.

Youth who were Spanish-dominant or were recent arrivals experienced the most acculturation stress, with levels declining as linguistic acculturation and time in the United States increased. Multiple regression estimates indicated that perceived discrimination was associated with larger amounts and higher frequency of recent substance use and an array of substance use attitudes, such as stronger intentions to use substances, espousal of pro-drug norms, more positive substance use expectancies, and peer approval of substance use.

Although acculturation stress was not associated with substance use, it was positively perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among with several substance use attitudes, which are known antecedents of actual use.

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With a few exceptions, linguistic acculturation and time in the United States did not moderate the effects of perceived discrimination or acculturation stress. Despite some downward trends in prevalence rates since the mid 1990s, substance use among youth remains a significant health problem in the United States Johnston, O'Malley, and Bachman 2007.

Rates of illicit substance use and alcohol abuse among middle school students have been consistently higher for Latino youth, relative to African American and non-Hispanic white youth Marsiglia et al. According to data from the national Monitoring the Future study Johnston et al. Yet heterogeneity among Latinos is such that some subgroups report low levels of use, suggesting that the distribution of risk and protection varies across subgroups National Institute on Drug Abuse 2003.

  1. Acculturation stress arises from the struggle to reconcile the culture of origin with the host culture Berry 1994. Additionally, the association between experiences of discrimination and alcohol consumption may be moderated by specific factors, 14 - 17 such as supportive parenting, 15 ethnic identity, 14 , 17 linguistic acculturation and time spent in the United States.
  2. Two categories of the AUDIT were defined; the first, alcohol consumption, included items 1-3 and a score ranging from 1 to 12; the second, alcohol-related problems, included items 4 to 10 and a score of 13 to 28.
  3. Recent immigrants who have limited English proficiency may be unfamiliar with the American racial-ethnic hierarchy, have limited contact with other racial-ethnic groups, and thus perceive little discrimination. Brant's test was used to test the model's proportional odds assumption; only one variable sex violated this assumption in the unadjusted model.

For example, immigrant and other less acculturated Latinos report low levels of substance use and appear to be protected by cultural factors that reduce exposure to substance use and pro-drug norms and promote pro-social behavior Marsiglia et al. In perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among, American-born and -raised Latino youth who are highly acculturated have been found to have high rates of use, and many of them are at increased risk of substance use due to low educational attainment, limited economic opportunity, and social marginalization due their ethnic minority status de la Rosa 2002 ; Delgado 1995.

Using a predominately Mexican-origin Latino sample, this study takes into account acculturative subgroup differences in exploring the relative effects of perceived discrimination and acculturation stress on youth substance use. These two stressors have been linked to negative behavioral and mental health outcomes in older youth and adults Sellers et al. Although levels of substance use are typically low during preadolescence Andrews et al. Recent research on alcohol use shows that prevalence doubles between grades four and six, with the highest increase in prevalence between grades five and six Donovan 2007.

Although initial use is often experimental Byrnes 2003early use is associated with progression to problem use CASA 2003 and use of more serious substances CASA 1994. Preadolescence is also a key period for the emergence of pro-drug attitudes that frequently are antecedents to actual substance use Elek, Miller-Day, and Hecht 2006.

Personal norms endorsing substance use, peer approval of substance use, positive drug use expectancies, and intentions to use drugs have all been linked to higher risk of substance use among youth Elek et al. Thus, an understanding of factors influencing preadolescents' substance use attitudes and behaviors is important for early prevention and intervention.

Perceived Ethnic Discrimination and Acculturation Stress Racial-ethnic discrimination is pervasive in the United States Kim and Lewis 1994 ; Feagin 1991 ; Telles and Murgia 1990and it has adverse health consequences, including greater substance use, for people who experience or perceive they experience it Liebkind, Jasinskaja-Lahti, and Solheim 2004 ; Turner and Avison 2003 ; Martin, Tuch, and Roman 2003 ; Mossakowski 2003 ; Sellers et al.

As members of an ethnic minority group, Latino youth are vulnerable to discrimination. However, some Latino subgroups may be less likely to experience and perceive discrimination than others. Recent immigrants who have limited English proficiency may be unfamiliar with the American racial-ethnic hierarchy, have limited contact with other racial-ethnic groups, and thus perceive little discrimination. In contrast, highly acculturated youth raised in the United States may have greater familiarity with American culture, have greater interaction with youth from other ethnic groups, and consume English-language media containing negative stereotypes of their ethnic group.

Thus they may be more likely to perceive discrimination. Research with older Latinos has shown, for example, that people who have spent a larger proportion of their life in the United States perceive more discrimination Finch et al. More acculturated Latinos may be more likely than the less acculturated to cope with discrimination by using substances because their higher acculturation level is accompanied by greater exposure to perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among and weaker antidrug norms Nieri et al.

As with perceived discrimination, subgroups of Latinos are likely to vary in their experience of acculturation stress Gil, Vega, and Dimas 1994.

Acculturation is the process of cultural change that occurs as a person encounters a different culture Berry 1997. Acculturation stress arises from the struggle to reconcile the culture of origin with the host culture Berry 1994. Immigrant youth are vulnerable to acculturation stress because they have transitioned from one society to another through migration. Although native youth have the advantage of more extensive prior exposure to the new culture because they grew up in the United States, they, too, may experience acculturation stress.

  • Older students, those who were admitted to the university through quotas, those in the poorest socioeconomic quintile and women reported higher rates of discrimination than their counterparts;
  • Youth were considered Spanish-dominant if the scale average was less than 3, bilingual if between 3 and 3.

For example, native Latino youth with limited English proficiency may struggle to reconcile their Latino culture with mainstream American culture Vega et al.

By restricting opportunities for bilingualism and biculturalism, American society's poor integration of these youth can lead to acculturation stress, often with grave consequences Portes and Rumbaut 2001. Acculturation stress has been linked to poor physical and mental health outcomes Finch, Frank, and Vega 2004 ; Finch et al.

Biculturalism has been associated with the experience of fewer acculturative conflicts Gil et al. Substance Use as a Coping Strategy The potential of perceived discrimination and acculturation stress to affect health negatively may depend on the coping strategies employed by the individual. Coping strategies are cognitive or behavioral efforts to manage the demands of a difficult situation Lazarus and Folkman 1984.

Young people who employ ineffective coping strategies commonly have certain temperament factors, such as dysregulated moods, which are related to substance use Swaim et al. Some youth perceive that substance use calms them down, cheers them up, or relieves boredom; so they use it as a coping strategy Wills and Filer 1996.

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Youth who begin using substances at early ages are among those who appear most likely to use substances to cope CASA 2003 ; Wright and Pemberton 2004. The utilization of substance use as a coping strategy may be conditioned by an individual youth's acculturation level. For several reasons, more acculturated youth may be more likely than their less acculturated counterparts to employ the substance use coping strategy.

Latino youth at higher levels of acculturation report greater normative approval of substance use i. Through their greater proficiency in English, more acculturated Latino youth may be influenced more readily by pro-drug norms and pro-drug images in mainstream media, such as those depicting substance use as common i.

Thus, acculturation may facilitate substance use by fostering its acceptance. In addition, acculturation can broaden access to substances.

For example, English language acquisition may encourage social networking with American natives who have higher rates of drug consumption and more permissive drug use norms Escobar 1998 ; Warner et al. Furthermore, since immigrant children learn English faster than adults and maintain less of their language of origin Portes and Rumbaut 2001acculturation may also produce an acculturation gap between parents and children that undermines parents' ability to monitor and control their children's risk-taking behaviors Escobar 1998.

Finally, among some low-income, ethnic minority youth, higher acculturation has been associated with a heightened awareness of their disadvantaged ethnic minority status in the United States, and of the extent of ethnic discrimination, their internalization of ethnic stereotypes and prejudices, and subsequent coping through substance use Vega and Gil 1998. Thus, to the extent that Latino youth perceive discrimination or experience acculturation stress, their choice of coping strategy may differ as a function of acculturation.

More acculturated youth could be more likely to cope by using substances because they are more likely to accept perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among use normatively, have more exposure to substance use and easier access to substance use opportunities, and have less effective parental monitoring of their activities.

Put differently, acculturation may moderate the effects of perceived discrimination and perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among stress on substance use.

We anticipate, therefore, that among predominately low-income youth, more acculturated youth who perceive discrimination will exhibit stronger pro-drug attitudes and behaviors than less acculturated youth who perceive discrimination.

Similarly, we anticipate that more acculturated youth experiencing acculturation stress will exhibit stronger pro-drug attitudes and behaviors than less acculturated youth experiencing similar stress.

Other research has documented this pattern. Nieri and colleagues 2005 found that less acculturated youth with poor body image were less likely than their more acculturated peers to report substance use, despite the fact that the less acculturated youth reported worse body image. Although we cannot test the mechanisms in the current study, an alternative to the coping model linking youth substance use to acculturation stress and perceived discrimination is a peer-focused model.

Stress and discrimination are often accompanied by family conflicts Birman 2006 ; Lau, Takeuchi, and Alegria 2006.

These conflicts may accelerate youths' arrival at the peer-dominant developmental stage of adolescence by encouraging them to turn away from family and look to peers. Youths who experience discrimination or acculturation stress may seek ways to fit in with their peers and find that substance use garners them acceptance. Acculturation, Perceived Discrimination, and Acculturation Stress The research to date on perceived discrimination and acculturation stress has been helpful in providing evidence of their existence and effects.

However, this literature has some limitations which must be addressed to arrive at a more complete theoretical picture. One problem with existing studies is that the items used to measure perceived discrimination and acculturation stress are often very similar, even though the underlying constructs are conceptually distinct.

When a study on perceived discrimination and a study on acculturation stress each use similar measures, it is difficult to decide which construct the results represent.

  1. Only comparisons according to sex and admission to university were statistically significant.
  2. Perceived Ethnic Discrimination and Acculturation Stress Racial-ethnic discrimination is pervasive in the United States Kim and Lewis 1994 ; Feagin 1991 ; Telles and Murgia 1990 , and it has adverse health consequences, including greater substance use, for people who experience or perceive they experience it Liebkind, Jasinskaja-Lahti, and Solheim 2004 ; Turner and Avison 2003 ; Martin, Tuch, and Roman 2003 ; Mossakowski 2003 ; Sellers et al. However, this literature has some limitations which must be addressed to arrive at a more complete theoretical picture.
  3. Gender was dichotomous, female coded 1 versus male 0.

The measures lack the necessary detail to contextualize them. In the literature on acculturation stress, perceived discrimination has been conceptualized and measured by some researchers as an acculturation stressor. An advantage of this approach is that the relative effects of perceived ethnic discrimination and the other stressors can be compared.

However, a disadvantage is that discrimination due to immigrant status, which may be salient only to immigrants, is not captured and thus cannot be distinguished from ethnic discrimination, which may be salient to both immigrants and natives.

Their measure had three subscales: They also included a separate perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among of perceived discrimination, capturing perceptions of discrimination in daily life due to the person's Mexican origin. Unfortunately, there perceived discrimination and early substance abuse among insufficient detail in the published work on the wording of the acculturation-stress discrimination items to assess whether and how the two measures of discrimination in the analysis were different.

We attempt to avoid confusion in the present study by measuring perceived ethnic discrimination and acculturation stress as distinct conceptual realms, specifying in the language of the discrimination items that we are interested in ethnic discrimination, and using measures of acculturation stress whose details refer specifically to acculturation-related issues.

Our measures of perceived discrimination make no reference to whether it was experienced as stressful, whereas the measures of acculturation stress capture stressful social conditions connected directly to acculturation and reported to be personally problematic. Latinos cannot be treated as a homogeneous or monolithic ethnic group with respect to risk and protective factors for health outcomes Page 2005. In addition to important differences by national origin, Latinos differ by generation status, linguistic acculturation, and time in the United States, and these differences have implications for substance use Warner et al.

We examine within-group differences among Latino youth systematically using two acculturation measures: In addition to controlling for the main effects of these variables on substance use-related outcomes, we also examine whether these two acculturation measures moderate the effects of perceived discrimination and acculturation stress through some interactive process.

The study's central aim is to contrast the effects of perceived discrimination and acculturation stress on substance use outcomes, and to explore how those effects may vary according to the acculturation status of Latino preadolescents.

We expect that perceived discrimination and acculturation stress will independently promote pro-drug attitudes and behaviors, and that both of these effects will be stronger for more acculturated compared to less acculturated youth.

We view both perceived discrimination and acculturation stress as chronic stressors, and utilize measures that gauge general exposure to these stressors rather than acute, time-delimited exposure. Prior research has shown that status variations in stress exposure may be underestimated by narrow life events measures; thus, such status variations are better examined using broader measures of chronic stressors Turner and Avison 2003.

By using measures that capture chronic stress associated with perceived discrimination and acculturation, this study aims to enhance our understanding of the relationship between stress and substance use and to contribute important information to the larger body of literature on the social causes of illness.

Data and Methods Sample Data came from 5th grade students at 30 elementary schools in fall 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona. The schools were part of a randomized trial of a substance use prevention program that recruited half of the school districts and elementary schools in the city. The study schools mostly serve lower-income neighborhoods, and all except two schools had majority-Latino enrollments.

Every 5th grade student in the schools was invited to participate in the study. Active parental and student consent were obtained in accordance with university and school district policies from 82 percent of the eligible students.

University-trained survey proctors administered a one-hour written questionnaire provided both in English and Spanish in the 5th grade classrooms.

Students were informed that the survey was part of a university research project, their participation was voluntary, and their answers were confidential. Consenting students who were absent on the initial survey date were able to complete the survey in class within the subsequent two-week period.

A total of 2,034 students completed the questionnaire during this two-week period, representing over 96 percent of students with parental consent and 79 percent of all enrolled students. The sample analyzed here includes data from 1,374 self-identified Latino students who completed the baseline survey, before the prevention program was implemented in randomly assigned schools.

The baseline data provide information on the two key independent variables: Given that the sample of youth is overwhelmingly of Mexican heritage and there are very small numbers of youth whose families originated in nations other than Mexico, we did not attempt an analysis by national origin subgroups. The study outcomes are Likert-type measures of substance use behaviors and attitudes. The major independent variables are scales measuring acculturation stress and perceived ethnic discrimination.

Measures of acculturation status are employed as moderating variables.