The Role of immigration age on alcohol and drug use among border and non-border Mexican Americans

Jennifer M. Reingle, Raul Caetano, Britain A. Mills, Patrice A C Vaeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: To determine the age of immigration at which the marked increase in risk for alcohol- and drug-use problems in adulthood is observed among Mexican American adults residing in 2 distinct contexts: the U.S.-Mexico border, and cities not proximal to the border. Methods: We used 2 samples of Mexican American adults: specifically, 1,307 who resided along the U.S.-Mexico border, and 1,288 non-border adults who were interviewed as a part of the 2006 Hispanic Americans Baseline Alcohol Survey study. Survey logistic and Poisson regression methods were used to examine how immigration age during adolescence is related to alcohol- and drug-use behavior in adulthood. Results: We found that participants who immigrate to the United States prior to age 14 have qualitatively different alcohol- and drug-related outcomes compared to those who immigrate later in life. Adults who immigrated at younger ages have alcohol- and drug-use patterns similar to those who were U.S.-born. Adults who immigrated at young ages and reside distal from the U.S.-Mexico border are at greater risk for alcohol and drug use than those who live in border contexts. Conclusions: Immigration from Mexico to the U.S. before age 14 results in alcohol- and drug-related behavior that mirrors the behavior of U.S.-born residents, and the alcohol- and drug-use effects were more pronounced among adults who did not reside proximal to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2080-2086
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Alcohol
  • Hispanic
  • Immigration
  • Mexican American

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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