Abstract: I Am Alone: Qualitative Risk and Protective Factors Associated to Substance Use Among Latino Day Laborers (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

331P I Am Alone: Qualitative Risk and Protective Factors Associated to Substance Use Among Latino Day Laborers

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Nalini Negi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, BALTIMORE, MD
Jennifer Siegel, MSW, Social Work PhD Student, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Gabriel Fiallos, MSW Student, University of Maryland at Baltimore, BALTIMORE, MD
Marilyn Calderon, BA, Research Assistant, University of Maryland at Baltimore, BALTIMORE, MD
Latino immigrant day laborers employed in the in the informal labor market experience significant structural vulnerability due to their undocumented immigration status, poverty, and dangerous work conditions, among other factors. Despite heightened exposure to risk factors associated to negative health outcomes among this population, the health risk behaviors of Latino day laborers (LDLs) are relatively unknown. Emergent research indicates that LDLs’ may initiate substance use to self-medicate and to cope with their difficult life circumstances. The emphasis of this current study is to provide a detailed qualitative description of risk and protective factors associated to substance use among male LDLs in Baltimore.
Methods: This ethnographic study utilized an adaptive sampling methodology with elements of field intensive outreach, Rapid Assessment for Response and Evaluation (RARE), and targeted snowball sampling. Respondents were street recruited from identified day labor sites. In-depth interviews were conducted with 77 LIDLs (n=52 current users, n=25 non-drug users) in Baltimore. The interview data was the main source for interpretation and analysis regarding participants’ experiences with drug use and associated risk behaviors. Field notes and participants’ characteristics were triangulated into analysis of the interview data to develop a comprehensive understanding of the context of drug use among LIDLs. Analysis was guided by Social Ecology theory and used Dedoose to elucidate the culmination of individual, migration and new settlement community factors as they relate to drug use.
Results: Baltimore is characterized by high levels of drug use and open air drug markets. Increased accessibility to drugs, marginalization and lack of social support (e.g., family) led to drug use initiation and problem drinking for those that were younger and did not have family in the US. A key-turning point for engagement in drug use for the first time post-migration included a traumatic event (death of a loved one or separation). Non-drug users’ settlement experience was distinct compared to drug users as this group tended to have stronger familial connections both in the United States and in their country of origin. Non-drug users were also more likely to be married (44% compared with only 12% of drug users) and have their spouse in the US. Further, non-drug users expressed that feelings of responsibility for wives and children as well as social support from these sources buffered them against engagement in health risk behaviors, such as, substance use.
Discussion. This ethnographic study’s focus on the risk and protective factors associated with negative health related substance use in a new immigrant settlement destination (Baltimore) elucidates previously unknown potential predictors (such as family relations, labor market experiences, social support networks) that can inform future research and theory with this underserved population. Findings regarding engagement in substance use and misuse may challenge traditional modes of treatment and shift clinical practice paradigms by indicating important points for prevention and intervention.