Disparities in completion of substance abuse treatment among Latino subgroups in Los Angeles County, CA

Addict Behav. 2012 Oct;37(10):1162-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.05.006. Epub 2012 May 22.


Rationale: A growing body of research has revealed disparities with respect to drug use patterns within Latino subgroups. However, the extent to which these potential disparities enable different Latino subgroups to respond favorably to treatment is unclear.

Methods: This study analyzed a subset of multicross-sectional data (2006-2009) on Latinos collected from publicly funded facilities in Los Angeles County, CA (N=12,871). We used multilevel logistic regressions to examine individual and service-level factors associated with treatment completion among subgroups of first-time Latino treatment clients.

Results: Univariate analysis showed that Cubans and Puerto Ricans were less likely to complete treatment than Mexicans and other Latinos. Cubans and Puerto Ricans entered treatment at an older age and with higher formal education than Mexicans, yet they were more likely to report mental health issues and use of cocaine and heroin as primary drugs of choice respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that age, having mental health issues, reporting high use of drugs at intake, and use of methamphetamines and marijuana were associated with decreased odds of completing treatment among all Latino subgroups. In contrast, age at first drug use, treatment duration, and referral monitoring by the criminal system increased the odds of completing treatment for all members.

Conclusion: These findings have implications for targeting interventions for members of different Latinos groups during their first treatment episode. Promising individual and service factors associated with treatment completion can inform the design of culturally specific recovery models that can be evaluated in small-scale randomized pilot studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cuba / ethnology
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Puerto Rico / ethnology
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome