Narcotics in Asian American Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2811 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Sports - Drugs

¶ … decline within overall narcotic use within the United States over the past decade, one ethnic group has shown no steady decline within recent narcotic use trends. The Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) as an aggregate group has maintained their consistent level of narcotic use within the past decade. Despite the irregularity within this data, this problem is seldom reported or researched within the national mindset. There are several reasons that AAPIs seldom receive media or research attention. As an aggregate group, AAPIs have historically had the lowest rates of alcohol, tobacco and drug use compared with other ethnic groups. Therefore, even though they have not seen a steady decline in rates, comparable metrics show that AAPI narcotic use is insignificant. This however does not mean that drug use within the Asian-American community is not a significant problem.

Substance use and abuse issues related to Asian-Americans have currently been limited mostly to alcohol and cigarette abuse. There is a dearth of research on the actual narcotic abuse rates for the Asian-American community. Only a limited amount of pertinent research has been conducted on the actual illicit drug use patterns among different AAPI groups within the United States. An examination of national and regional reports on racial/ethnic differences and alcohol, tobacco and drug (ATOD) rates for Asian-American show that they are always among the lowest sector. In 1999, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse showed that rates for lifetime illicit drug use was 19%, much lower in comparison than to any other ethnic group (SAMHS Administration, 2000). Asians in general have had the lowest level of lifetime drug abuse rates among the youth demographic. However, comparison of rate between national level studies and regional level studies show that regional levels are traditional higher than national ones. An explanation for this is that the majority of studies on narcotic use usually under represent Asian-American demographics.

The evident problem is that while there is a lack of accurate data on Asian-American narcotic use, many case studies have shown that drug use within Asian-American teenagers are rising at a rapid pace. What is more, under representation implies that there could be a substantial problem for the Asian-American community, for which no solution has or will be implemented. It is crucial for the Asian-American community to understand the extent of the narcotics problem. This is especially true among the Asian-American teenage population, which has seen a rise in ATOD abuse because of intergenerational conflicts, and the pressures of being different. The purpose of this study is to examine the reality of Asian-American drug use and the specific reasons behind why it occurs.

Not only is it important to understand the real context of drug abuse, but the subsequent question of why narcotic abuse among the Asian-American community is reported with such infrequency and its relationship with social, economic and cultural factors.

Literary Review:

Empirical research has shown that ATOD use usually begins around the time of adolescence. This is especially true among Asian-Americans teenagers as they confront the problems of identity development. Cultural, familial and economic conflicts which results from being Asian-American can severely stress teenagers and lead them towards further alienation from adult peer groups. This general trend within the teenage population entails a deeper understanding of how ATOD impacts intergeneration conflict and Asian-American teenage drug use.

Specific research on Asian-American narcotic rates is traditionally rare, not only is this demographic relatively small, but their low rate of narcotic use deters significant research in this field. Dr. Mamie M. Wong has conducted the most influential research into real statistical analysis on AAPI drug use. Her work centers upon understanding ATOD prevalence among AAPIs within California and Hawaii. Her focus is on comparing ATOD rates among Whites, Chinese, and Filipino, Japanese, and Pacific Islander adolescents. Here data reveals several surprising discoveries about the varied drug use among AAPIs. Using data from school surveys collected from 9th and 10th grade students from California and Hawaii, Wong used comparative data from over 24,000 total students. Her research showed that while Asian-Americans as a whole has far less drug use prevalence compared with other ethnic demographics, internal variation among different Asian-American groups show significant differences. Chinese-Americans for instance showed a remarkably low rate of illicit drug use, with only 6.4% having ever tried Marijuana, while Pacific Islanders have a much higher rate than even the White demographic with 31% use.

The implication of modern research studies on drug use is that drug use within certain Asian ethnicities is still prevalent at dangerous levels. Moreover, the lack of information on specific use of drugs among teenagers is dangerous from a prevention perspective. There are currently no Asian centric prevention programs within the Southern Pacific region (Wong, 2003). The result of negligence on research and negligent school organizations implies that this is a growing problem. Drug use among Asian-Americans is actually on the rise within certain at-risk areas.

Recent demographic studies show that there are significant spikes within Asian-American drug use within certain geographic regions, specifically within California. A study of Asian-American drug use within Los Angeles County concluded that drug use among Asian-American teens have increased by 15% from 1998 to 2004 (Takaki, 1989). The growth of drug use among Asian-American teenagers is a startling development, they center on at risk areas within Los Angeles County. The influence of gang violence, and increasing penetration of drug trafficking through the Asian community, have both contributed to the increasing use of narcotics among teenagers. Part of the problem is that prevention mechanisms rarely exist to combat and prevent teen drug use. A survey of LA county programs show that there almost none that are geared specifically towards drug and alcohol prevention within Asian-American communities.

The implicit problem noted by Dr. Gauri Bhattacharya is that few American drug and narcotic prevention agencies understand the differences among Asian-American subgroups. As a result, no targeted campaigns are possible, because cultural differences among Asian cultures explicitly differ from one another (Wong, 2004). She observes that from 1980 to 1990, the Asian-American population grew an overall 108%, however that this growth was most significant among certain Asian-American groups. Asian-Indians grew 126%, while the Chinese-American population grew only 53%. The implication is that a collective campaign to deter drug use among Asian-Americans must be targeted towards specific Asian-American groups. Bhattacharya postulates that the reason prevention mechanisms within Asian-Americans do not exist among teenagers is because of their relatively high performance rates within school. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the high school graduation rate of Asian-Americans in general is about 20% higher than national averages.

Research has shown that drug abuse among Asian-Americans increase substantially after the first generation. Studies indicate that as second generation Asian-Americans begin to integrate within society, their risk of using alcohol and drugs substantially increases (Chi, Lubben and Kitano, 1989). In a review of 2,000 second generation Asian-American students, the risk for drug use increased by 42% when compared with data from first generation Asian-American students. The reason for such a high increase from second generation Asian-Americans can be attributed to cultural and social impetus. Asian-Americans who are growing up within low-income areas tend to adopt the habits of their environments that might differ dramatically from their traditional values (Chi, Lubben and Kitano, 1989). Researchers note that part of the problem stems from intergenerational conflict, in which substantial cultural clash leads teenagers to become rebellious, leading them to suspect activity that includes drug and alcohol use. An income level study of first generation Asian-Americans show that they are among the lower end of income spectrums, specifically within urban areas. The result is that second generation Asian-Americans from these areas adopt to unhealthy growth environments that may affect their ultimate decision to use ATOD.

Although government statistics for ATOD show low prevalence rates among Asian-Americans, many researchers believe this is a function of underreporting rather than actual representation. The lack of culturally sensitive instruments in measuring Asian-American drug abuse is one of the biggest barriers for accurate data collection (Fong, 1992). Research into intergenerational conflict and drug use among Chinese-Americans show that there are increasing identity related problems within families. A study of 11,000 Asian-American community's show that almost half of all Asian-American first generation families deal with the problem of intergenerational conflict. This conflict leads directly to endemic and deviant behavior including drug use (Fong, 1992).

Many different factors have been identified as contributing factors to drug use among Asian-American adolescents. Many of these problems are endemic of intergenerational transitions and the problem of first generation Asian-Americans. Low socio-economic status has been identified as one of the major contributing environmental risk factors for ATOD use among adolescents. Living within areas where there is high crime, and working within low-paying jobs influence general discontentment with society and promotes drug use. This is highlighted by research statistics which examine data collected nationally on Asian-American drug use has a positive correlation with low economic status (Wallace and Bachman, 1993). Another factor that influences… [END OF PREVIEW]

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