Academic journal article Social Work

Perceptions of Mission-Critical Organizational Resources: A Survey of Substance Prevention and Treatment Agencies in the Southwest

Academic journal article Social Work

Perceptions of Mission-Critical Organizational Resources: A Survey of Substance Prevention and Treatment Agencies in the Southwest

Article excerpt

This article explores administrator and staff perceptions of mission-critical agency capacity in a predominantly Hispanic region that has a high degree of acculturation and elevated use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The domains explored are financial resources, proposal development, agency policies, organizational structure, communication, leadership, planning, and networking capabilities. Although significant differences were found among all eight domains, both staff and administrators concurred regarding the two areas of least capacity--financial resources and proposal development-- and the two areas of greatest capacity--planning and networking capabilities. The authors suggest that agreement about the ranking of the domains is the most important finding rather than the differences between administrators and staff. A discussion of the practice and educational implications concludes the article.

Key words: community development; Hispanics; Latinos; organizational resources; substance use

Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) prevention and treatment issues with Hispanics have been a source of increased interest in the academic literature during the past decade (Santiago-Rivera, 1995). The creation in the late 1970s of the Hispanic ethnic classification, an amalgamation of individuals from 26 Spanishspeaking nations, has helped focus more attention on this population (Castex, 1994). The increased attention, however, has not produced a clear consensus regarding patterns of ATOD use among Hispanics.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1997) National Household Survey on Drug Abuse data revealed that overall Hispanic ATOD use and abuse was significantly below that of non-Hispanic white people and frequently less than African Americans. However, other researchers have found higher rates of ATOD use among Hispanics compared with the non-Hispanic white population (Austin & Gilbert, 1989; Caetano, 1983, 1994; Carrasquillo, 1991; Casas et al., 1998; Deren et al., 1997; Rodriguez & Brindis, 1995; Warheit, Vega, & Khoury, 1996; Weeks et al., 1996).

One factor explaining the discrepancy may be the degree of acculturation of the population sampled. It has been widely noted that ATOD use increases with acculturation to the broader U.S. culture (Austin & Gilbert, 1989; Caetano, 1994; Casas et al., 1998; Deren et al., 1997; Warheit et al., 1996). For example, Warheit et al. found a generally linear trend between length of time in the United States and increased substance use rates among the four Hispanic subgroups in their longitudinal study. In the national. federal survey, recent high rates of immigration may have produced a relatively favorable portrayal of current ATOD use when compared with studies that used smaller, more highly acculturated samples (Castex, 1994; Perez & De La Rosa Salazar, 1993).

Although the relationship between acculturation and increased ATOD use is complex, a key component likely to exacerbate at least alcohol and tobacco problems is the recent discovery by alcohol and tobacco companies of the Hispanic population as a viable, distinct market (Roslow & Nicholls, 1996). Marketing efforts have taken on increased psychological sophistication aimed at exploiting cultural nuances to increase sales, as seen in the introduction of tobacco products with Spanish brand names in Hispanic areas (Nuiry, 1997; Rodriguez & Brindis, 1995).

Given the relative youth, high levels of immigration, and high ratio of single-parent families among Hispanics (Castex, 1994; Perez & De La Rosa Salazar, 1993), combined with an increased acculturation effect fostered by the aggressive marketing of alcohol and tobacco products (Nuiry, 1997; Rodriguez & Brindis, 1995), it seems reasonable to suggest that ATOD problems are likely to increase among Hispanics. Exploration of agencies' capacity to carryout ATOD programs is needed. …

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