Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

F/Pilipino American Substance Abuse: Sociocultural Factors and Methods of Treatment

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

F/Pilipino American Substance Abuse: Sociocultural Factors and Methods of Treatment

Article excerpt


An analysis of related studies provides commentary on sociocultural relationships between Filipino Americans and substance abuse. This manuscript discusses specific historical and cultural background of Filipino Americans and current Filipino/Filipino American health problems. The purpose of this manuscript is to illustrate the unique experience of Filipino Americans in relation to alcohol and tobacco use. Commentary is offered for potential methods of treatment for this ethnic group. The distinction between Filipino Americans and other Asian Americans is drawn to illustrate a need for ethnocentric therapeutic practice.


Previous research has found certain trends in regards to Asian populations and substance abuse. Flaskerud & Hu (1992) found that there were lower rates of substance abuse among Asian Americans than among Euro-Americans, African Americans, or Latino Americans. Royce & Scatchley (1996) cite two major findings. 1) The "Chinese Flush" is an innate reaction to alcohol that can be found in 60 to 83 percent of "Orientals" and in only 5 percent of Europeans. 2) An atypical form of Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) in 90 percent of Japanese livers causes faster production of and slower metabolism of acetaldehyde, which leads to higher residual levels. Straussner (2001) writes about the different ethnocultural factors in substance abuse among several different ethnic groups. For Asian Americans, her ethnic-specific words focus on Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Koreans, and Cambodians. Because of the vast heterogeneity within the Asian Pacific American Diaspora, it is very important to study specific ethnic groups, in order to assess and treat them properly. The purpose of this work is to specifically address thesociocultural factors that lead to substance abuse among F/Pilipino(1) Americans.

F/Pilipino Americans are one of the largest Asian American Pacific Islander group in the United States (Crisostomo, 1996). As a specific ethnic group, F/Pilipino Americans differ from their Asian American counterparts in a variety of ways. Physically, F/Pilipinos are darker in skin tone-identifying with the color "brown" instead of "yellow" as other Asian Americans might (Ignacio, 1976). Culturally, F/Pilipino and F/Pilipino Americans have a distinct ethnic background, which consists of aboriginal Pilipino, Spanish and American cultures, along with traces of Muslim, Pacific Islander, and Indonesian influence (Rabaya, 1971). Religiously, F/Pilipino Americans differ, in that they are the only Asian American group with a strong Catholic presence. Due to four hundred years of Spanish colonization in the Philippines, over 80% of the F/Pilpino population is Roman Catholic, without including the number that is Christian (Agbayani-Siewert, Revilla, 1995). Historically, F/Pilipinos are unique, because they are only Asian American group that has been colonized and influenced from Europe, the Americans, and Asia (Rabaya, 1971).

Besides substance abuse, there are several health concerns that are drastically affecting F/Pilipino Americans, and not necessarily their Asian American cohorts. According to the Filipino Task Force on AIDS (1998), HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death for American-born male Filipinos between 25-34 years old in the state of California (Filipino Task Force on Aids, 1998). HIV/AIDS was also the second leading cause of death for all Filipino immigrants in the state. In fact, Filipinos have the highest percentage of HIV/AIDS in the Asian Pacific American community, contributing 32.4% of the total number of reported Asian Pacific HIV/AIDS cases in California. (Chinese Americans, who ranked second, produced 14.3% of the total among of Asian Pacific HIV/AIDS cases). Because Asian Americans are not being targeted as at-risk AIDS populations, F/Pilipinos are being properly educated on safe sex practices.

Along with HIV/AIDS, according to the National Vital Statistics Report (2000), F/Pilipino American and native Hawaiian women have the highest rates of unintended pregnancy out of all Asian Pacific ethnic groups. …

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