Discrimination's Role in Minority Groups’ Rates of Substance-Use Disorder


Dr. Lo, School of Social Work, University of Alabama, Box 870314, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0314. E-mail: clo@ua.edu.


This study asked whether, among the three largest American racial/ethnic minorities, presence/absence of current substance-use disorder is explained to any degree by social status and discrimination. It examined interaction effects involving discrimination and social status, exploring whether social-status factors are channeled through discrimination, fostering disorder. Logistic regression techniques were applied to data from the nationally representative dataset 2001–2003 Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys. Findings generally suggest that presence of substance-use disorder is likely to be associated with perceived discrimination. Significant interaction effects were also found: Discrimination's strongest association with substance-use disorder was observed for Asian respondents with lower incomes and for Hispanic respondents with little education. This study significantly expands knowledge, since little research preceding it directly addressed relationships among social-status factors, discrimination, and substance-use disorder in minority populations. This study's results should encourage future researchers to further explore mechanisms of the mental health effects of discrimination. (Am J Addict 2012;00:1-7)