Study Findings Support the Healthy Immigrant Hypothesis

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A study published in February 2019 examined prevalence rates of alcohol, nicotine, and other drug use and major psychiatric disorders (major depressive disorder, persistent depression, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, social and specific phobias, and antisocial, schizotypal, and borderline personality disorders) between US-born and foreign-born Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites and between early entry versus later-entry foreign-born Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites. Data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions were analyzed.
Findings included:
  • US-born Mexican Americans and US-born non-Hispanic whites were at greater risk of alcohol, nicotine, and any drug use and their associated disorders and other DSM-5 psychiatric disorders relative to their foreign-born counterparts.
  • Foreign-born Mexican Americans < 18 years old at immigration were at greater risk of drug use, drug use disorders, and nicotine use disorder compared with foreign-born Mexican Americans ≥ 18 years old at immigration.
  • Foreign-born non-Hispanic whites < 18 years old at immigration were more likely to use substances and to develop many psychiatric disorders relative to foreign-born non-Hispanic whites ≥ 18 years old at immigration.
The researchers concluded that the findings of this study support the healthy immigrant hypothesis and adverse role of acculturation for US-born and foreign-born Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites.
Source: Kerridge et al. (2019). Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders Among Mexican Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites by Immigration Status. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 21(1).

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