College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leonard A. Jason, PhD

Second Advisor

Bernadette Sanchez, PhD

Third Advisor

Verena Graupmann, PhD


Disparities in access and utilization of substance abuse treatment (SAT) among Latinas/os, accentuated by the rapid growth of this population are creating a public health issue. Among those in need of SAT, only 7.7% receive treatment and nearly half of these individuals complete SAT or continue their recovery in a controlled environment. Additionally, Latinas/os who complete SAT reported their needs were not met in treatment. Although substance abuse literature has given more consideration to environmental factors and social support in relation to treatment outcomes, current substance abuse models fail to address important contextual and cultural aspects for Latinas/os in recovery. The inclusion of accultuation in substance abuse models is needed to further our understanding of the socio cultural and contextual factors implicated in the recovery process among Latinas/os.

Research that examines acculturation theories using a critical lens is needed to expand current notions of acculturation and how these theories can be applied to other populations and settings. Acculturation theorists propose the use of a multidimensional framework to explore, not only changes in higher order constructs but also in the acculturation process to inform culturally-grounded prevention programs. Specifically, investigating the role of community-based recovery settings as a catalyst for acculturation process on Latinas/os who completed SAT would shed light on parallel processes that Latinas/os experience as part of the recovery process. Research in this area is critical to inform and develop sustainable and effective substance abuse aftercare for Latinas/os.

The aim of the proposed study is twofold: a) test out a multidimensional acculturation model (Schwartz et al., 2010) on a sample of 135 Latinas/os (Mage= 36.3; SD±10.4, 117 males, 49% immigrants) who recently completed SAT. Specifically, the proposed study examine behavioral acculturation (i.e., Latina/o cultural orientation, U.S. mainstream culture orientation) and attitudinal acculturation (i.e., perceptions toward the Latina/o culture and the U.S. mainstream culture) as moderators of the association between generational status (i.e., immigrants and U. S. mainland-born Latinas/os who completed SAT) and alcohol and drug use in the past six months (baseline). Additionally, changes in acculturation in relation to the length of stay in Latinas/os assigned either to traditional community-based recovery homes or culturally modified community-based recovery homes are explored.

The second aim is to explore the acculturation process on a sample of 84 Latina/o OH residents (Mage = 37; SD±10.1, 68 males, 52% U.S. mainland-born Latinas/os) using critical acculturation (Chirkov, 2009) and segmented assimilation theories (Portes and Rumbaut, 2002). Data from the six-month follow-up are employed to answer the following questions: (1) In light of the immigrant paradox, what acculturation dimensions are associated with substance abuse lifetime? (2) Does treatment setting moderate the association between length of time in OH and house process and house environment? And if so, are changes in acculturation processes correlated with acculturation dimensions? (3) Does treatment setting moderate the association between length of stay in OH and changes in social network density and composition? And 4) does treatment setting moderate the association between acculturation processes and substance use sobriety among Latina/o residents?

Overall, results from the proposed analyses will provide a better understanding of how multiple acculturation dimensions operate at the individual level. Similarly, the examination of the context of reception as well as social networks in promoting sobriety is relevant for the applicability of acculturation research. More important, findings from acculturation research should provide policy makers, health providers and community members with a better understanding of the mechanisms, interpersonal dynamics, and environmental conditions that impact Latina/o immigrants and their immediate descendants' recovery process from substance abuse.

SLP Collection