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US-born residents more than 5 times likely to use prescription opioids than new immigrants, study finds

University of Michigan study looks at link between American culture and opioid use

A new study from the University of Michigan and Dartmouth University found that the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the more likely they are to use prescription opioids. (Shutterstock via CNN)

A new study from the University of Michigan and Dartmouth University found that the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the more likely they are to use prescription opioids.

Researchers analyzed the impact of American culture on an individual’s likelihood to use prescription opioids among 42 million adult immigrants and found that nearly 8% of immigrants used, compared to 16% of adults born in the U.S.

The study, published OCt. 25 by the JAMA Network, found a direct relationship between the amount of years immigrants spend in the U.S. and their likelihood to use opioids.

Immigrants living in the U.S. between five and 15 years were more than three time as likely to use opioids than new immigrants, and immigrants who have been in the U.S. longer than 15 years were four times likelier to use opioids than new immigrants, according to the study.

Comparatively, U.S.-born residents were more than five times likely to use prescription opioids than new immigrants.

“Our results indicate that American culture has a potent influence on opioid prescribing, as evidenced by the dramatic time effect that is associated with a massive increase in prescription opioid use among immigrants to the United States,” said Matthew Davis, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and Medical School.

Researchers said the study’s findings shed light on an American culture that promotes opioid use.

Davis, along with Brian Sites from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, suspects the adoption of American culture likely influences the dynamic between health care professionals and immigrant patients.

For more information on the relationship between immigrants’ likelihood to use prescription opioids and the amount of years they’ve lived in the U.S., read the study’s complete findings here.