Acculturation, drinking, and alcohol abuse and dependence among Hispanics in the Texas-Mexico border

Raul Caetano, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, Lynn S. Wallisch, Christine McGrath, Richard T. Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background: Acculturation has been linked to an increased prevalence of alcohol-related problems. However, most of the research has been conducted with Hispanic populations in metropolitan areas of the United States, none of which is on the U.S.-Mexico border. This study examines the association between acculturation, heavy episodic drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence among Hispanics in the Texas-Mexico border. Methods: The study used data from a survey conducted (2002 to 2003) along the Texas-Mexico border and included 472 male and 484 female Hispanic adults from El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley, and colonias. Based on the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans-II scale, respondents were coded into 4 acculturation categories: "very Mexican oriented," "Mexican bicultural," "Anglo bicultural," or "very Anglo/Anglicized.". Results: Acculturation was related to lower rates of alcohol use disorders among men and a higher frequency of heavy episodic drinking among women. Multivariate analyses indicate that men who report heavy episodic drinking and those who are "very Mexican," "bicultural Mexican," or "bicultural Anglo" are more at higher risk for alcohol abuse and/or dependence compared with "very Anglo/Anglicized" men. For women, acculturation level did not predict alcohol disorders. Statistical analyses included testing for bivariate associations and multivariate logistic regression predicting heavy episodic drinking alcohol abuse or dependence. Conclusions: This study suggests that acculturation has different effects on drinking for men and women. This finding needs some attention as literature also indicates that women drink more and may develop more alcohol-related problems as they acculturate. This increase in women's drinking is probably because of U.S. society's more liberal norms governing female drinking. The "bimodal" distribution of risk, in which only men in "very Anglo" group are at a lower risk than the others, may be unique to the Border. The association between acculturation and alcohol use disorders does not appear to be linear and the effect of acculturation is not uniform on individuals' drinking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-321
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Acculturation
  • Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
  • Hispanic
  • Texas-Mexico Border

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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