New Study Finds Disparity among Male and Female Mexican-American Substance Abusers

Posted on May 7th, 2010

A recent study sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) called The TEDS Report (Treatment Episode Data Set) revealed a significant difference between Mexican-American men and women suffering from substance abuse addictions.

According to the May 5, 2010 report, men are more likely to report alcohol as their primary substance of abuse (about 40%) and women are more likely to report methamphetamine as their primary substance of abuse (about 33.5%) among the Mexican-American admission population. Information gathered for the report was based on 2007 Hispanic admissions to addiction treatment centers from across the country. According to SAMHSA, Hispanics represent 15% of the U.S. population (64% of which are Mexican-American), and also make up 15% of all U.S. treatment center admissions.

The study also showed that males made up 72.5% of all Mexican-American admissions to treatment centers. Mexican-American men were more likely to be referred to substance abuse treatment centers by a criminal justice system than women (52.8% men and 38.3% women). Mexican-American women, on the other hand, were more likely to be referred to treatment centers by a community-based program than men (21.6% women and 2.5% men). Women were also more likely to have comorbid disorders than their male counterparts (11% women and 7% men). Although the majority of admissions were not employed at the time of their treatment, Mexican-American men were more likely to have full-time employment than women (30% of men and 11.1% of women).

SAMSHA emphasizes the need for the entire U.S. community to help support the growing national health problem of American substance abuse; this new data available on the Mexican-American population should be examined to help reach the needs of this diverse group. The existing cultural and gender-related patterns revealed by these statistics help the medical community and policy makers understand what prevention and treatment strategies must be taken to help lower risk.

Aside from their differences, Mexican-American men and women did share some characteristics. The majority of substance abusers from both genders were most likely to have started use with their primary substance of abuse before the age of 18 (60.7% of men and 56.1% of women). About 7.4% of admissions admitted using their primary substance of abuse before the age of 12. Additionally, most Mexican-American admissions were least likely to have health insurance (78.8% of men and 71.5% of women). In contrast, non-Mexican-American admissions were more likely to have health insurance coverage (62.6% of men and 51% of women). The average age of Mexican-American admissions was 25–34 years of age (26.8% of males and 30.9% of females).

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