People of Mexican origin constitute the largest subgroup of Hispanics in the US (70 percent), representing 29 percent of the country’s immigrant population. A substantial proportion of these immigrants come to the US from border areas in Mexico. A large percentage of border Hispanics is also native-born. Little epidemiologic data exist on substance use or related disorders along the US-Mexico border on either side, or on the effect of stressors associated with border residence. The research aims to describe and explain alcohol use patterns and related problems among Mexican-origin adults living in three pairs of sister metropolitan areas at the Texas-Mexico border, plus, as a contrast, in one adjacent non-border metropolitan area on each side of the border as follows: 1) describe alcohol and drug use patterns and alcohol use disorders in border vs. non-border context on both sides of the border; 2) test a conceptual model explaining the effects of border variables on alcohol and drug use outcomes; 3) describe cross-border mobility on both sides and determine the impact of cross-border mobility on alcohol and drug use patterns and alcohol use disorders.

Survey data, from face-to-face household interviews, will be collected on 2,400 Mexican-origin adults over the age of 18 living in three border metropolitan areas (Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville), and one non-border metropolitan area (San Antonio) in Texas, and on 2,400 adults living in three sister metropolitan border counterparts (Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros), and one non-border metropolitan area in Mexico. Hazardous drinking, alcohol use disorders, and drug use will be compared between respondents in border and non-border metropolitan areas on both sides, and between those in Texas and their counterparts in Mexican sister metropolitan areas. Path analysis will be used to test the conceptual model.

These findings are expected to increase our understanding of alcohol use patterns and problems in the border context, including the influence of cross-border mobility, and provide valuable data for formulating hypotheses which can be explored in a broader border context. Findings from this proposal will inform intervention and prevention strategies within the border context, as well as within the context of the broader Mexican-origin community as border individuals move to the interior of the US.

Sponsor: Public Health Institute Alcohol Research Group / NIAAA  R01AA018365, P.I.: C. Cherpitel)