Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Maureen Mickus

Second Advisor

Shannon McMorrow

Third Advisor

Mercedes Tubino-Blanco


The United States is becoming increasingly older and more racially and ethnically diverse, with Mexican Americans adults aged 65 and over becoming the frontrunners in population growth. Substance use disorders are high among this particular population, with alcohol and tobacco being the most common culprits. Previous research suggests that the prevalence of drinking and smoking among Mexican Americans is increased compared to Mexicans living in Mexico, and substance use rates are highest in those most accustomed to United States culture. While acculturation may initially increase exposure to healthcare options, Mexican Americans are disproportionally uneducated and have lower socioeconomic status than white non-Hispanic Americans. They thus have limited access to health insurance and affordable healthcare, and therefore have decreased substance abuse education and treatment. Additionally, Mexican immigrants are exposed to financial and emotional stressors that might cause them to begin using harmful and addictive substances. A better understanding of how American societal factors influence immigrant populations to initiate or increase negative health behaviors is needed to solve the long-standing and worsening substance abuse problem in the United States.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access