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Differences in Substance Use Among Immigrants and the Canadian-Born Population

Abstract

This study draws upon data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to examine self-reported substance use (alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana) among immigrants and the Canadian-born population, and whether usage rates are affected by mental health issues, socio-economic status, and other demographic factors. Analysis of the data indicated identified the Healthy Immigrant Effect (HIE), also known as the “Immigrant Paradox,” in relation to mental health issues and substance use among immigrants. Both immigrants and natives with mental health issues were more likely to consume more cigarettes and marijuana. In addition, the relationship between mental health issues and substance use among immigrants may suggest that they underutilize mental health services. The results of this study also reveal that language preference and gender both influence substance use among immigrants. Furthermore, socio-economic status was found to partially account for marijuana, alcohol, and cigarette use among immigrants. Although mental health issues may not necessarily predict increased alcohol use among immigrants, alcohol is the most frequently consumed substance. The connection between mental health issues and marijuana and cigarette use among immigrants highlights the need for more culturally safe and language-sensitive programs aimed at raising awareness regarding substance-related risks.

Résumé

Cette étude s'appuie sur les données de l'Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes (ESCC) pour examiner la consommation de substances (alcool, cigarettes et marijuana) chez les immigrants et les natives au Canada, et si les taux de consommation sont affectés par les problèmes de santé mentale, le statut socioéconomique et d'autres facteurs démographiques. L'analyse identifie l'effet d'immigrant en santé (EIM), également connu sous le nom de « paradoxe de l'immigrant», en ce qui concerne les problèmes de santé mentale et la consommation de substances. Les immigrants et les natives ayant des problèmes de santé mentale étaient susceptibles de consommer plus de cigarettes et de marijuana. De plus, la relation entre les problèmes de santé mentale et la consommation de substances chez les immigrants peut suggérer qu'ils sous-utilisent les services de santé mentale. Les résultats de cette étude révèlent également que la préférence linguistique et le sexe influencent la consommation de substances chez les immigrants au même temps que le statut socio-économique expliquait en partie la consommation de marijuana, d'alcool et de cigarettes chez les immigrants. Bien que les problèmes de santé mentale ne prédisent pas nécessairement une augmentation de la consommation d'alcool chez les immigrants, l'alcool est la substance la plus fréquemment consommée. Le lien entre les problèmes de santé mentale et la consommation de marijuana et de cigarettes chez les immigrants met en évidence le besoin de programmes visant à sensibiliser aux risques liés aux substances qui sont adaptés à la culture et à la langue des immigrants.

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Data Availability

Not applicable.

Code Availability

Not applicable.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the two anonymous reviewers whose detailed and insightful comments improved the manuscript.

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SR was responsible for conducting the analysis, writing the results, literature review, and part of the discussion section. YL was responsible for writing the introduction, methods, and part of the discussion section and editing the paper.

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Correspondence to Yiyan Li.

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Ru, S., Li, Y. Differences in Substance Use Among Immigrants and the Canadian-Born Population. Can. Stud. Popul. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42650-021-00047-x

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Keywords

  • Substance use
  • Mental health
  • Immigrant
  • Canada

Mots-clé

  • consommation de substances
  • santé mentale
  • immigrant
  • Canada