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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2013 Jul;74(4):532-41.

Who's at risk? Ethnic drinking cultures, foreign nativity, and problem drinking among Asian American young adults.

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Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, California 94608-1010, USA.



Despite the low overall prevalence of alcohol use among Asian Americans, rates of alcohol use disorder are high among Asian American young adults. The influence of ethnic drinking cultures on immigrants and their descendants has been overlooked in past research. We took an integrative approach to examine the influence of ethnic drinking culture, acculturation, and socioeconomic disparities on problem drinking among Asian American young adults.


This study was a nationally representative sample of 854 Asian American young adults extracted from the Wave 4 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data. About 48% of the sample was female and 52% male. Several multiple logistic regression models were fitted.


Controlling for other covariates, two dimensions of ethnic drinking culture were associated with alcohol outcomes only for the foreign born: (a) detrimental drinking pattern with frequent drunkenness and alcohol-abuse symptoms and (b) drinking prevalence with alcohol-dependence symptoms. Financial hardship was a significant predictor of symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence only for the U.S. born. Asian language use was protective against alcohol-abuse symptoms and alcohol-dependence symptoms for the foreign born.


Cultural and socioeconomic factors of problem drinking may be different for U.S.-and foreign-born Asian American young adults. Ethnic drinking cultures may significantly influence problem drinking of foreign-born Asian American young adults, independent of their acculturation into U.S. cultures. To inform effective interventions targeted at immigrants and their descendants, future research might further investigate the cultural and socioeconomic processes in immigrant communities that might significantly influence drinking.

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