Substance Abuse/Addiction among Asian-Americans and Pacific IslandersDuring the month of May, we commemorate National Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This month, the Ethnicity and Health in America Series is raising public awareness about mental health and substance abuse/addiction among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Asian-American adolescents had lower rates of substance use compared with the national average. However, substance use varied greatly among Asian-American subgroups. There is a current need to learn more about Asian-American subgroups as it relates to mental health and substance abuse/addiction.

We are featuring the work of Derek Iwamoto, PhD, who is an Asian-American psychologist with substantive knowledge and experience in the field of substance use and abuse among people of color. Broadly, the aim of Iwamoto's research is to address health disparities experienced by traditionally underserved and understudied groups such as African-Americans and Asian-Americans by 1) identifying socio-cultural factors and mechanisms that influence the development of binge drinking and alcohol-related problems, and 2) conducting translational research to inform and augment substance abuse treatment and interventions targeting at-risk ethnic and racial minority adolescents and young adults.

Substance Abuse/Addiction among Asian-Americans and Pacific IslandersTo date, his work has contributed to the literature by examining the influence of socio-cultural factors such as racial socialization (i.e., racial consciousness, racial/ethnic group attachment), gender socialization (the beliefs, attitudes and expectations of what it means to be a man or woman), alcohol/substance abuse and mental health problems among ethnically diverse populations. Iwamoto recently edited the first ever book on counseling interventions with Asian-American men.

Selected Article

Binge Drinking and Alcohol-Related Problems among U.S.- Born Asian Americans 

2012
Derek Iwamoto, PhD
Stephanie Takamatsu, PhD
Jeanett Castellanos, PhD

Preface, by Derek Iwamoto, PhD: This article discusses how U.S. born Asian-American young adults engage in binge drinking and report more alcohol-related problems compared to foreign-born Asians. The findings suggest that there is great variability in drinking patterns among different U.S. born Asian-American ethnic groups. Individuals of Japanese, Filipino, Multi-Asian, Korean and South Asian descent were more likely to engage in binge drinking compared to Chinese and Vietnamese Americans. Notably, Japanese and Filipino Americans also reported binge drinking at high rates similar to those of other high-risk racial/ethnic groups highlighting that "high risk groups" exist among U.S. born Asian-Americans.