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Background

US-born Latinos have higher rates of alcohol use than Latinos who have immigrated to the United States. However, little is known about the pre-immigration drinking patterns of Latino immigrants or about the changes in their drinking behaviors in the 2 years post-immigration.

Objectives

This article reports findings of a longitudinal study that compared rates of regular, binge, and heavy drinking among a cohort of recent Latino immigrants, ages 18–34, prior to immigration to the United States and in the 2 years post-immigration.

Methods

Baseline data were collected on the drinking patterns of 405 Latino immigrants living in the United States for 12 months or less. A follow-up assessment occurred during their second year in the United States.

Results

Findings indicate that number of days of drinking declined significantly post-immigration. Binge alcohol use (five or more drinks on the same occasion during the past 90 days) significantly declined during the post-immigration period. Heavy alcohol use (five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days during the past 90 days) also significantly decreased.

Conclusions

Results suggest a need for continued exploration of pre-immigration drinking patterns and research to uncover underlying factors associated with declines in rates of problematic alcohol use among recent Latino immigrants.

Scientific Significance

The results of this study can aid in furthering our understanding of the alcohol use of Latino immigrants ages 18–34 prior to and post immigration to the United States to guide future research and the development of culturally tailored clinical interventions. (Am J Addict 2013;22:162-168)