BMC public health

Substance consumption in adolescents with and without an immigration background: a representative study-What part of an immigration background is protective against binge drinking?

PMID 27842534


Representative data indicate that adolescents with an immigration background show less harmful patterns of consumption, for example, they practice binge drinking less often. It remains to be shown whether this also applies to substances such as tobacco and cannabis and if the "healthier" patterns of consumption are permanent or if they gradually disappear as the level of integration increases. Using representative data, the current study was designed to a) present the epidemiology of the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis of adolescents with and without an immigration background in 2013 and b) to analyze which immigration-specific variables predict problematic alcohol consumption in adolescents with an immigration background. A representative, written survey was administered to 9512 students in the 9th grade from Lower Saxony, Germany in 2013 by the "Kriminologisches Forschungsinstitut Niedersachsen (KfN)." Data were collected from 1763 adolescents with an immigration background regarding their cultural, structural, social, and identificative integration. These variables were introduced as predictors in a multiple logistic regression analysis with binge drinking during the last 30 days as the dependent variable. Compared with German adolescents without an immigration background, significantly fewer adolescents with an immigration background had already tried alcohol, but they were significantly more likely to report experience with cigarettes and cannabis. In the group of adolescents with an immigration background, the percentage of binge drinkers fluctuated by country of origin (p < .001). In the regression model, binge drinking was associated with a lower targeted school leaving certificate (p < .001), not living on social welfare (p = .038), and the strong assimilation (p = .015) of the adolescent. Binge drinking was negatively associated with attitudes that favored segregation (p < .001) and a stronger attachment of the parents to the traditions of their country of origin (p = .003). It cannot be confirmed that adolescents with an immigration background generally show less harmful patterns of consumption. Distinctions have to be made regarding the substance, the adolescent's country of origin, and the level of assimilation or segregation of the adolescent and his/her family.