Adapting to the United States might come with its own side effects, says the Oregonian. As Spanish speakers learn English, they also turn to illegal drug use, with English-speaking Latinos reporting illegal drug use at a rate 13 times higher than their Spanish-speaking peers, says an Oregon State University sociologist who studied Washington residents. The pressures of immigrating can fuel an existing addiction or spark new substance abuse, Portland-area drug and alcohol treatment experts agree. Immigrants face learning a language, finding a home, and working two or more jobs, and they often grapple with loneliness.
Other sociologists have studied the effects of acculturation on drug and alcohol use, said Scott Akins, an OSU sociologist and lead author of a study that will be published next spring in the Journal of Drug Issues. Those studies have focused on areas like California with large Latino populations. Akins said he and three co-authors are the first to look at the Pacific Northwest, where Latino immigrants tend to be more dispersed and isolated from the churches, cultural centers and family that would tie them to their culture.