Trajectories of Acculturation and Enculturation in Relation to Heavy Episodic Drinking and Marijuana Use in a Sample of Mexican American Serious Juvenile Offenders

By Losoya, Sandra H.; Knight, George P. et al. | Journal of Drug Issues, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Trajectories of Acculturation and Enculturation in Relation to Heavy Episodic Drinking and Marijuana Use in a Sample of Mexican American Serious Juvenile Offenders


Losoya, Sandra H., Knight, George P., Chassin, Laurie, Little, Michelle, Vargas-Chanes, Delfino, Mauricio, Anne, Piquero, Alex, Journal of Drug Issues


This study examines the longitudinal relations of multiple dimensions of acculturation and enculturation to heavy episodic drinking and marijuana use in a sample of 300 male, Mexican-American, serious juvenile offenders. We track trajectories between ages 15 and 20 and also consider the effects of participants' time spent residing in supervised settings during these years. Results showed some (although not entirely consistent) support for the hypothesis that bicultural adaptation is most functional in terms of lowered substance use involvement. The current findings demonstrate the importance of examining these relations longitudinally and among multiple dimensions of acculturation and enculturation, and they call into question simple models that suggest that greater acculturation is associated with greater substance use among Mexican-American adolescents.

INTRODUCTION

Individuals of Mexican heritage are the largest subgroup (i.e., 58.5%) of the Hispanic population and one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population. This rapidly growing subgroup is also relatively youthful compared to the general U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001), which means that large numbers of Mexican/Mexican-American adolescents are being confronted by dual cultural adaptation challenges that arise from being members of an ethnic minority group within the mainstream U.S. These challenges include learning the host culture's language, rules, values, and traditions, during a period of their lives that is considered to be normatively challenging (Steinberg, in press).

Adolescence has been characterized as a turbulent period during which a central task is ego identity development (Compas, Davis, Forsythe, & Wagner, 1987; Erickson, 1968; Marcia, 1980). However, Mexican-American adolescents undertake also to develop an "ethnic identity" (Phinney, 1989, 1990) amid the torrent of information on norms, values, and expectations of the host cultural environment. Indeed, Mexican-American adolescents are obliged to integrate views about the self, the family, and the community, which they learned from their parents and other sources of socialization from the ethnic culture, with the often contradictory views put forth by socialization agents from the mainstream culture. Hence, these adolescents are particularly vulnerable as they strive (or not) to live up to more than one set of cultural standards and expectations. These dual cultural adaptation processes are referred to as acculturation (i.e., adaptation to the mainstream culture) and enculturation (i.e., adaptation to the ethnic culture). The processes may place Mexican American adolescents at risk for a variety of negative outcomes (Gonzales & Kim, 1997; Gonzales, Knight, Morgan-Lopez, Saenz, & Sirolli, 2002; Vega & Gil, 1999) including alcohol and drug abuse.

Alcohol and illegal drug use among adolescents in general are serious social and public health concerns because they are associated with delinquent activities (Huizanga, Loeber, Thornberry, & Cothern, 2000), academic failure (Arellano, Chavez, & Deffenbacher, 1998; Beauvais, Chavez, Getting, Deffenbacher, & Cornell, 1995; Chavez, Edwards, & Getting, 1989; Pagan & Pabon, 1990; Mensch & Kandal, 1988; Vega, Khoury, Zimmerman, Gil, & Warhaheit, 1995), risky sexual behavior (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2006; Krohn, Lizotte, & Perez, 1997), impaired driving (Turrisi & Jaccard, 1992; Saffer & Grossman, 1987), and later substance abuse or dependence diagnoses (Grant & Dawson, 1997; Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992; Hawkins, Graham, Magun, Abbott, Hill, & Catalane, 1997). Although the recent national surveys of adolescent substance use indicate declines in prevalence rates overall, rates for Latino adolescents continue to be high (Delva et al., 2005; Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 2001). For example, data from the 2005 Monitoring the Future survey indicate that Hispanic 8th graders are higher in rates of use of nearly all classes of drugs (except amphetamines) than are 8th grade non-Hispanic Whites or Blacks (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2006) and that Hispanic youth report the highest annual prevalence of heavy episodic drinking (i. …

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