Background: This study examines the association between country of birth, language spoken at home, and lifetime illicit substance use in a Canadian national sample.
Method: Secondary analysis of data was conducted using a sample of 8,656 persons who were between 15 and 54 years of age in 1994 and who participated in Canada’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Survey.
Results: Rates of substance use differed among the four groups (42.6% for Canadian-born who spoke official languages, 33.8% for Canadian-born who spoke non-official languages, 35.2% for foreign-born who spoke official languages, and 11.1% for foreign-born who spoke non-official languages). The rate differences persisted after adjustment for socio-demographic factors, religiousness, friends’ use of substances, and participation in social activities.
Interpretation: More in-depth studies that include culture-specific information are required to explain the rate differences. In addition, alternative preventive strategies may be required to reduce substance use among foreign-born persons.
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