Changing social capital among recent Latino immigrants (RLIs) influences substance use post-immigration. This was a longitudinal study of 476 South/Central American RLIs examining social capital and substance use changes pre to post-immigration. Self-reported measures of social capital and substance use were compared between surveys administered within 1 year of immigration and 2 years post-immigration. Post-immigration, social capital, hazardous drinking and illicit drug use decreased. Women were less likely to engage in hazardous drinking [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) .32, p < .001], and less likely to use illicit drugs (AOR .67, p = .01). Documented individuals with higher levels of 'business' social capital had increased odds of illicit drug use (AOR 2.20, p < .05). Undocumented individuals with higher levels of 'friend and others' social capital had decreased risk for hazardous drinking and illicit drug use (AOR .55, p < .01; AOR .56, p < .05). Documentation status moderated the relationship between social capital and substance use. RLIs can be targeted for primary prevention of substance abuse.
Keywords: Documentation status; Immigrants; Social capital; Substance use.