Country of birth and language spoken at home in relation to illicit substance use.

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Background: This study examines the association between country of birth, language spoken at home, and lifetime illicit substance use in a Canadian national sample.

Method: Secondary analysis of data was conducted using a sample of 8,656 persons who were between 15 and 54 years of age in 1994 and who participated in Canada’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Survey.

Results: Rates of substance use differed among the four groups (42.6% for Canadian-born who spoke official languages, 33.8% for Canadian-born who spoke non-official languages, 35.2% for foreign-born who spoke official languages, and 11.1% for foreign-born who spoke non-official languages). The rate differences persisted after adjustment for sociodemographic factors, religiousness, friends’ use of substances, and participation in social activities.

Interpretation: More in-depth studies that include culture-specific information are required to explain the rate differences. In addition, alternative preventive strategies may be required to reduce substance use among foreign-born persons.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Canadian Journal of Public Health