man in gray polo shirt

“Hispanic” is a broad term, and in the United States, refers to any Spanish-speaking individual, particularly those of Latin American descent.

For research purposes, data is often collected based on specific demographics and ethnic groups, including Hispanic/Latino individuals. This includes Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA. Based on this data, high-risk groups can be identified to provide greater support when needed.

For example, one study1 collected data from 4,580 undergraduate students at a Midwestern research university. Hispanic and White students were more likely to use and abuse drugs compared to African American and Asian students. The study included drug use before they began attending post-secondary school, as well as during. Rates of use varied depending on the substance of choice.

The goal is often prevention. By understanding what ethnic groups are at risk of substance use disorders, policies and resources can be adjusted to meet the needs of select groups and communities.

Experts agree2 that as the size of the Hispanic population in the United States increases, it’s important to focus on both the prevalence and treatment of alcohol and drug abuse among this group. While studying the Hispanic community, researchers have uncovered several risk factors, particularly concerning access to treatment.

Based on the available Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA, here is what you need to know about addiction among the Hispanic community, as well as what can be done about it. If you or your loved one need help, services are available in Southern California for both addiction and mental health.

Hispanic Substance Abuse Statistics in the USA

The Latino/Hispanic community has been steadily growing for over a decade3 In 2010, 50.74 million Hispanic individuals were living in the United States, growing to 60.48 million by 2019, making this population the largest ethnic subpopulation. Approximately half4 of this population is concentrated in California and Texas, and nearly a quarter reside in New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Arizona, and New York.

To better understand the prevalence of addiction, it’s important to look at Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA.

Most of the research on substance use among Hispanics focuses on alcohol. The belief is that regardless of national origin, the Hispanic/Latino community showcases higher rates of substance abuse among men compared to women.

Aside from alcohol, researchers have also studied the relationship between the Hispanic community and drug use — both prescription and illicit.

A 2019 report5 highlighted the Hispanic community, addiction, and the opioid epidemic. The number of opioid-related deaths increased nearly fivefold in the United States between 1999 and 2016. Research shows disparities in healthcare among minority populations living with opioid use disorder, particularly among Hispanics. As discussed below, the stigma towards mental illness and addiction treatment plays a significant role.

Read moreMinority Mental Health Awareness: Hispanic Males and Addiction Recovery

Statistics From the 2019 NSDUH: Hispanics

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provides a window into the state of substance abuse and mental health concern in the United States, including Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA. The goal of this research is to help guide policy efforts to address:

  • The most problematic substances
  • Prevalence of mental illness
  • Concerns surrounding the combination of substances used and mental illness
  • The resources needed and where those resources should be directed
While studying Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA among adults 18 years and older, it was found that in 20196
  • 8.9 million Hispanic adults had a mental illness and/or substance use disorder, representing an increase of 3.7% compared to 2018
  • Among Hispanic adults with a mental illness, 27% had a serious mental illness
  • Among Hispanic adults with a substance use disorder:
    • 41% struggled with illicit drug use
    • 72.4% struggled with alcohol
    • 13.4% struggled with both alcohol and illicit drugs
  • 1.4 million individuals 18 or older had both a substance use disorder and a mental illness
Focusing specifically on alcohol use:
  • Past month use significantly increased from 2018 among Hispanics ages 12 to 17
  • Past year alcohol use disorder remained stable across all age groups
  • Past year alcohol use disorder is most prevalent among those ages 18 to 25
Focusing specifically on illicit drug use among Hispanics:
  • Marijuana use significantly increased from 2018, jumping from 13.6% to 15.2%
  • 2.6 million individuals were using psychotherapeutic drugs
  • 1 million used hallucinogens
  • 970,000 used cocaine
  • 417,000 used inhalants
  • 288,000 used methamphetamines
  • 48,000 used heroin

A Closer Look at the Opioid Epidemic

The NSDUH also took a closer look at the current opioid crisis, including the use of prescription misuse among Hispanics. Here are some of the Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA concerning opioids.

  • 1.8 million Hispanics misused opioids in 2019, representing 3.7% of the population
    • 1.7 million misused prescription pain relievers, with the top drugs of misuse being hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, tramadol, and morphine
    • 48,000 misused heroin
    • 33,000 misused both
  • Opioid misuse was most prevalent among those ages 18 to 25, but heroin use continues to decline in this age group
  • The most common source of pain relievers included:
    • 37.3% had a prescription from one doctor
    • 33.8% got them from a friend or relative for free
    • 8.3% reported “some other way” not listed here
    • 8.1% bought them from a friend or relative
    • 5.9% bought from a drug dealer or other stranger
    • 3.7% took from a friend or relative without asking
    • 1.9% store from a hospital, doctor’s office, or pharmacy
    • 0.9% had a prescription from more than one doctor
  • Opioid use disorder significantly declined from 2016 among those ages 12 to 17 and continues to slightly decline across all other age groups

If you or your loved one are struggling with addiction, help is just a phone call away. Learn more about alcohol rehab and drug rehab at Windward Way. If you have questions, call our Newport Beach treatment center at (855) 491-7694

Hispanic Substance Abuse in California

According to California Health Care Almanac7, approximately 8% of Californians met the criteria for substance use disorder. However, only 10% receive any type of treatment.

The following stats highlight substance use among the Latino/Hispanic community living in California.

  • White and Latino adolescents are most likely to use alcohol and marijuana
    • Nearly one in five California Latino (and White) high school students reported drinking alcohol four or more times in their lifetime
    • 18.4% of 7th, 9th, and 11th grade Latino students used alcohol four or more times
    • 15% of 7th, 9th, and 11th grade Latino students used marijuana four or more times
  • 1 in 6 California women reported binge drinking in the three months before pregnancy, and 1 in 13 used alcohol during the third trimester
    • Prevalence was highest among white women (15.7% drank alcohol during the third trimester), followed by African American (6.7%), Asian (4.6%), and Latina represented the lowest percentage at 3.9%
  • Nonfatal emergency department visits for heroin overdoses was fairly low among Hispanics (6.8 per 100,000 population compared to 16.3 for white individuals, 16.2 for African American individuals, and 15.9 for Native American individuals)
  • Alcohol-induced death rates were highest among American Indian/Alaska Native individuals (28.5 per 100,000 population) and Latino individuals (14.4 per 100,000 population)

Substance Use Among Young Hispanics in Southern California

When aiming to prevent substance use disorders, Hispanic emerging adults are a priority population in Southern California. This group represents individuals between the ages of 18 to 25, and are more likely than any other age group to use substances of abuse.

To better understand the association between ethnicity and substance use, researchers were interested in how culturally-related beliefs and values influence substance use. This 2018 study8 was interested in whether traditional Hispanic cultural values showcase protective factors or risk factors concerning substance use among emerging adults.

Some of the greatest cultural values among the Hispanic community include:

  • Familism, focusing on interdependence, respect, and fidelity
  • Respeto, showing differing treatments to family members based on status and age
  • Fatalism, which is a belief that life outcomes are predetermined — individuals have little control over life events, including health outcomes
Previous research9 shows that familism is protective against smoking and alcohol misuse. In the current study, researchers found that:
  • High fatalism scores were associated with alternative tobacco product use, including cigars, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes
  • High familism scores were linked to binge drinking, a risk factor for alcohol use
  • Respeto scores were associated with less marijuana and hard drug use as well as less binge drinking

The researchers concluded that although limitations exist in the research, cultural variables matter when implementing prevention and intervention programs. These programs should emphasize how substances of abuse interfere with respeto (caring and honoring parents), as well familism (the cohesion and functioning of a family).

Other studies (and Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA) warn it’s important to understand that the cultural traits attributed to Hispanics/Latinos are most often generalizations. Since this community is not a homogeneous group, they do not think and act the same concerning every issue, including addiction. For example, Cuban Americans and Mexican Americans may have varying views within their culture and more specifically within their homes. This is a complex issue and, like all substance abuse treatment options, personalized treatment is usually the best alternative.

Hispanic Migrants: Risk Factors for Addiction

Before we discuss some of the barriers that currently exist among the Hispanic community concerning addiction treatment, it’s important to address some of the current risk factors.

Each year, approximately 150,000 to 200,000 migrants from Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras come to the United States, seeking work opportunities. Of the Mexican and Central American immigrant population, roughly 40% reside in California10 These individuals face several hardships, including long-term separation from their family members and difficult working conditions, increasing the risk of anxiety and mood disorders. Sadly, some of these individuals will then turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. Regional studies based in California have shown that among Hispanic migrant workers, as many as 80% regularly binge drink11, 39% are dependent on alcohol12, and 25% use cocaine and/or methamphetamine13

Some of the main barriers Hispanic migrants face when seeking treatment for substance use disorders include:

  • Internalized stigma
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Work demands
  • Individual-level barriers, such as limited English proficiency
  • Among migrant workers specifically, many fear their legal status will be revealed

Sadly, many do not get any help until it is court-mandated (e.g. following a DUI conviction) or they suffer injuries. Research shows that up to 66%14 of Hispanic migrant workers’ emergency department visits were related to the misuse of alcohol. This means that drug and alcohol use among this community not only threatens the individuals themselves, but these situations can also pose serious public health issues.

Other Barriers When Seeking Addiction Treatment

Upon reviewing Hispanic substance abuse statistics in the USA, it’s clear that the Hispanic community is in need of support. One of the most important areas of focus is treatment — and more specifically, the challenges surrounding available treatment options. National studies show that Latinos and Hispanics are less likely to use substance abuse treatment programs, including both in and out-patient programs compared to other ethnic groups.

In one key study15, Latin American/Hispanic individuals were significantly more likely to report barriers concerning subjective and attitudinal norms than White or Black participants. One of the greatest barriers is how Hispanic and Latino individuals view treatment from a cultural perspective. Within the Hispanic community, people don’t often talk about their problems.

A participant in the study said, “Everybody drinks and you don’t talk about your feelings; that’s the way things are. It’s kind of hard to change when everyone has the same mentality.”

Other barriers included:

  • Perceived efficacy of treatment
  • Perceived treatment need
  • Recovery goals
  • Stigma and a lack of social support, including family support

The study concluded that specialty substance abuse treatment services are effective, regardless of one’s race or ethnicity. Continuing to understand why Latino/Hispanic individuals showcase low rates in utilizing specialty treatment is critical when aiming to reduce ethnic disparities related to addiction.

How Windward Way Can Help

Located in stunning Orange County, California, Windward Way helps men and women overcome addiction by providing community, connection, and purpose. Our personalized treatment plans help individuals begin their road to recovery so they can achieve a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling future.

Are you ready to take the first step towards a life of sobriety?

Our counselors are standing by 24/7. Please fill out our confidential online form or call us at (855) 491-7694 to discuss your unique needs today!

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15