Abstract: The Relationship Between Pre-Migration Acculturation and Substance Use Among Adolescents in Mexico (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

13335 The Relationship Between Pre-Migration Acculturation and Substance Use Among Adolescents in Mexico

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 5:30 PM
Seacliff D (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
David Becerra, PhD , Colorado State University, Assistant Professor, Fort Collins, CO
This study examined whether higher levels of pre-migration acculturation were associated with higher rates of substance use among adolescents living in Mexico. Studies examining the relationship between acculturation and substance use among Mexican heritage adolescents living in the U.S., have found that higher levels of acculturation are associated with higher rates of substance use (Epstein, Botvin, & Diaz, 2001; Kulis, Yabiku, Marsiglia, Nieri, & Crossman, 2007). With increased globalization, youth living in foreign countries may be exposed to U.S. culture through the expansion of U.S. commercial markets into those countries, as well as through movies, music, and the internet. Adolescents living in a Mexican city that borders the U.S. may have even greater exposure to U.S. culture than adolescents living in regions further removed from the U.S.-Mexico border. Chun and Akutsu (2003) argued that studies should account for acculturation that occurs prior to migration. This study attempts to fill the gap in the literature regarding pre-migration acculturation and substance use among adolescents in Mexico.

The data for this study were drawn from a sample of 980 adolescent students in Tijuana, Mexico surveyed in February of 2009. There were 495 (50.3%) males and 485 (49.3%) females, with a mean age of 16. The majority of the mothers (74.2%) and fathers (68.6%) of participants in this study had less than a high school education. Over 80% of the participants indicated that their average grades in school were 80 or higher (equivalent to a B or higher grade point average). Almost a quarter of the participants (22.3%) indicated that their family's economic situation was “poor” or “very poor.” Fourteen of the 33 items from the Bicultural Involvement Questionnaire (Szapocznik, Kurtines, & Fernandez, 1980) were used to create a pre-acculturation scale (á= .853) for this study. The dependent variables were comprised of lifetime and past 30 day use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana, as well as binge drinking and being drunk in the past 30 days.

Multivariate regressions were run controlling for gender, age, average grades in school, socioeconomic status, and mother's and father's levels of education. The results indicated that higher pre-acculturation levels significantly predicted higher rates of lifetime and past 30 day alcohol and cigarette use. Higher levels of pre-migration acculturation also significantly predicted binge drinking as well as being drunk within the past 30 days. Higher rates of pre-acculturation, however, did not significantly predict higher rates of lifetime or past 30 day marijuana use.

The results of this study indicate that pre-migration acculturation may have an impact on the development of adolescents living in Mexico and can impact substance use. Social workers in Mexico need to be aware of the potential impact pre-migration acculturation can have on substance use among Mexican adolescents and use this information to develop culturally appropriate substance abuse prevention programs that emphasize cultural and familial protective factors.