Alcohol use among recent Latino immigrants before and after immigration to the United States

Am J Addict. Mar-Apr 2013;22(2):162-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.00310.x. Epub 2013 Feb 1.


Background: US-born Latinos have higher rates of alcohol use than Latinos who have immigrated to the United States. However, little is known about the pre-immigration drinking patterns of Latino immigrants or about the changes in their drinking behaviors in the 2 years post-immigration.

Objectives: This article reports findings of a longitudinal study that compared rates of regular, binge, and heavy drinking among a cohort of recent Latino immigrants, ages 18-34, prior to immigration to the United States and in the 2 years post-immigration.

Methods: Baseline data were collected on the drinking patterns of 405 Latino immigrants living in the United States for 12 months or less. A follow-up assessment occurred during their second year in the United States.

Results: Findings indicate that number of days of drinking declined significantly post-immigration. Binge alcohol use (five or more drinks on the same occasion during the past 90 days) significantly declined during the post-immigration period. Heavy alcohol use (five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days during the past 90 days) also significantly decreased.

Conclusions: Results suggest a need for continued exploration of pre-immigration drinking patterns and research to uncover underlying factors associated with declines in rates of problematic alcohol use among recent Latino immigrants.

Scientific significance: The results of this study can aid in furthering our understanding of the alcohol use of Latino immigrants ages 18-34 prior to and post immigration to the United States to guide future research and the development of culturally tailored clinical interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology
  • Binge Drinking / ethnology
  • Binge Drinking / psychology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • United States / epidemiology