“While there are many questions around alcohol and drug use and addiction, it’s not always easy to find factual answers. Information from the internet, social media, TV, movies, and music isn’t accurate.
For young people, friends can also be a source of misinformation. From January 23-29, National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week provides the facts about drugs, alcohol, and addiction. This week-long health observance is an opportunity to hear directly from scientists and other experts through educational events, Drugs & Alcohol Chat Day, and partnerships. While the week primarily targets high school students across America, the resources and information from these events can be used by any organization as a part of their prevention strategy.” – https://teens.drugabuse.gov/
Drug use is most common among young adults who are 18 to 25 years old. Rates of current (past month) use of illicit drugs in 2015 were higher for young adults aged 18 to 25 (22.3 percent) than for youths aged 12 to 17 (8.8 percent) and adults aged 26 or older (8.2 percent)
Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.
About 570,000 people die annually in the U.S. due to drug use. That breaks down to more than 480,000 deaths related to tobacco, about 31,000 due to alcohol, nearly 22,000 due to overdose from illicit (illegal) drugs, and close to 23,000 due to overdose from prescription pain relievers.
In 2015, the Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 10% of 8th graders and 35% of 12th graders drank during the past 30 days, and 5% of 8th graders and 17% of 12th graders binge drank during the past 2 weeks.
According to NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey–a national survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders–past-year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana was down from recent peaks in all three grades in 2016. Also notable is the decrease in tobacco use, which is now at the lowest rate in the survey’s history for all three grades.
Statistics were taken from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/ and www.cdc.gov/.
“More than 1 in 8 Americans are both raising a child and caring for a parent. They are known as the sandwich generation. Seven to 10 million adults are also caring for an aging parent who lives far away.” – https://www.cdc.gov/
So why is this occurring? Possible reasons are because:
More people than ever are aging
People are living longer due to advancements in medicine and technology
It is taking longer and harder for children to become financially independent
(CDC) Some caregivers may need to change an employment situation to fit in their caregiving role. Caregivers may consider talking to a supervisor about work options allowing the caregiver to maintain both their employment and caregiving roles. These options could include the following:
Having more flexible hours
Reducing working hours
Working from home
Taking a leave of absence
Downgrading to a less demanding job
People giving care to both young and older family members report higher levels of depression, anxiety, and lower quality of life. Research has shown that 17% of these caregivers rate their health as “fair” or “poor” compared with 10% of non-caregivers.
Among the 44 million unpaid caregivers to older adults in the United States, 75% are employed. The average employed caregiver works about 35 hours a week.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census the eight largest Asian American populations in Minnesota are the Hmong, Asian Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Laotian, and Cambodian communities. Specifically, 27 percent of the total population identify themselves as Hmong, 15.5 percent are Asian Indian, 11.7 percent are Chinese, 11.1 percent are Vietnamese, 4.9 percent are Laotians, and 3.9 percent are Cambodians (See Figure 2).
Minnesota is home to over 40 different Asian Pacific Minnesotan immigrant and refugee communities. Each community has its own strengths and challenges that may be unique to that ethnic community. The following is an overview of how Chinese and Taiwanese community is faring in Minnesota.
Chinese and Taiwanese American Community Overview
The Chinese Americans are among the earliest AAPIs who settled in Minnesota. Arriving alongside other pioneers, mostly of European descent, Chinese immigrants built their businesses and grew their community in the state starting in the mid-18th century. In the last decade alone, the Chinese and Taiwanese population grew 54.5 percent in Minnesota – much of the growth stemming from the need for highly skilled workers and the rise of Chinese and Taiwanese students seeking educational opportunities in the state’s universities and colleges.ii Although the community is only the third largest AAPI ethnic group in Minnesota, Chinese Americans continue to be the largest AAPI group in the U.S. with an average age of 45 years old.i APA ComMNet REACH CORE project staff and volunteers met with Chinese and Taiwanese American community members and leaders throughout the Twin Cities to understand the community’s strengths, challenges and other social and environmental factors affecting its overall health and wellbeing.
Chinese and Taiwanese American Community Strengths
Chinese and Taiwanese Americans who participated in the project pointed to their increased economic vitality and the ability to maintain a strong cultural identity as strengths in their community. The Chinese and Taiwanese American community in Minnesota has contributed to the creation and growth of area businesses and improved the state’s economy for over a century.ii Increased economic opportunities may be evident in the higher income most Chinese and Taiwanese American families have. The average household income for Chinese and Taiwanese Minnesotans ranges at $73,333.i The Chinese and Taiwanese community also discussed their pride for Chinese and Taiwanese culture and traditions. Community members stated that they believe their cultural heritage is a source of community and individual health. Dr. Niccu Tarafarrodi, a community health researcher, stated in her 2010 report:
“Art and craft are a central part of Chinese culture and of the personal identity of many Chinese. Interview participants stated that they believed the enjoyment of art and crafts could be helpful for relieving depression, loneliness and hopelessness.”
Chinese and Taiwanese American Community Challenges
Chinese and Taiwanese community members who participated in this project identified the lack of adequate transportation, access to affordable health care, and the limited proficiency in English of some of its members as barriers to the community’s overall health and wellbeing. With over 42 percent of the Chinese and Taiwanese population in Minnesota considered to not be proficient in English, many community members indicated that Chinese and Taiwanese Americans, particularly the elderly in the community, are unable to access appropriate care. As a guest during the Chinese and Taiwanese radio show concluded, “[We need] easy access to clinic, overcome language barrier by attending ESL classes. Not enough classes to offer senior, need more people involve and support.” Chinese and Taiwanese community members also stated that younger members seem to neglect taking care of their elderly, which is customary in traditional Chinese and Taiwanese culture. However, with many Chinese and Taiwanese Americans growing up in a society that typically employs professional help to care for their elders, younger Chinese and Taiwanese Americans’ behavior to not care for their elders in a traditional manner has affected the health of the community as a whole.
In addition, APA ComMNet survey results show that although smoking rates in the Chinese and Taiwanese American community was found to be relatively low (figure 3). Chinese and Taiwanese community members who participated in this project stated that a high number of Chinese restaurant workers smoke cigarettes, with some stating that the smoking rate of this particular population is up to 75 percent.
REACH CORE Radio Talk Show
Host Peiju: Chinese ancient idea about “Take care all the elders like take care our own parents”, share the great love to improve our community’s health.
Guest Shi: lack of information, do not know where to start.
Guest Li: Most of my time in CSSC is volunteering. We need to reach out to our neighbors and to our seniors. They need activities and the opportunity to get together. 2-3 days a week will be appropriate.
Council of Asian-Pacific Minnesotans (CAPMN), 2012. The State of Asian Pacific Minnesotans: 2010 Census and 2008-2010 American Community Survey Report. St. Paul, MN. Published by the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans.
Minnesota Historical Society, 2013. “Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees.” St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved January 8, 2013 (http://education.mnhs.org/immigration/)
Tafarrodi, Niccu. NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center Community Assessment Report – A Brief Qualitative Assessment of Five Ethnic Communities: Cambodian, Chinese, Hmong, Lao and Vietnamese. Minneapolis, MN.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census the eighth largest Asian American populations in Minnesota are the Hmong, Asian Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Laotian, and Cambodian communities. Specifically, 27 percent of the total population identify themselves as Hmong, 15.5 percent are Asian Indian, 11.7 percent are Chinese, 11.1 percent are Vietnamese, 4.9 percent are Laotians, and 3.9 percent are Cambodians (Figure 2).
Minnesota is home to over 40 different Asian Pacific Minnesotan immigrant and refugee communities. Each community has its own strengths and challenges that may be unique to that ethnic community. The following is an overview of how the Hmong American community is faring in Minnesota.
Hmong American Community Overview
The Hmong American community is the largest AAPI ethnic community in Minnesota and is second to California which has the largest Hmong American population in the U.S.1 APA ComMNet was able to survey a larger number of respondents from the Hmong American community – almost three times more than any other ethnic AAPI groups compared to other AAPI groups. . APA ComMNet REACH CORE project staff and volunteers met with Hmong American community members and leaders throughout the Twin Cities to understand the community’s strengths, challenges and other social and environmental factors affecting its overall health and wellbeing.
Hmong American Community Strengths
In general, the Hmong American community perceived its quality of life in the Twin Cities as fair or improving. Hmong Americans stated that they are healthier living here in the U.S. compared to their relatives in Thailand, Laos and other areas of Southeast Asia. Several Hmong community members indicated that ample activities and opportunities exist for youth to be physically fit, reach their academic goals, and live to their fullest potential. Numerous participants also expressed that Hmong American youth of today hold more degrees in higher education and are expected to live longer compared to their parents’ generation. Furthermore, the Hmong American community pointed to an increasing number of political leaders, male and female, who assist in creating policies and programs that are aimed at improving the overall well-being of the community. Others also mentioned the large number of businesses and institutions created to serve members of the Hmong community. Such factors have created a positive perception of the how the Hmong community is faring in the eyes of its members. Many Hmong Americans state that their most important community assets include their strong family foundation, clan network and their value of having a good education.
A 2010 report found that the household size of a typical Minnesotan Hmong family is 5.4 members, the largest household size among all AAPI ethnic groups.2 Hmong community members interviewed for this project said that having a large family is an asset because they rely on their family for support and assistance. Chingla Thao, the Dean of Students at New Millennium Academy – a Hmong charter school in Minneapolis said he comes from a “community-dependent” community that values interdependence between members. Thao added that this interdependence and the value of having a large family might be traced from the Hmong’s agrarian culture. According to Thao, more family members provide financial security:
“The Hmong often want bigger families in an event of a crisis, so the burden is shared by more people. Having bigger families builds community and it helps us be independent in a way that we don’t have to seek for outside help. We can get that help and support internally, from each other.”
Education also is a priority for many Hmong community members who participated in this project. In recent years, more charter schools have opened its doors in the Twin Cities with a focus in providing culturally appropriate education to students of Hmong descent. When asked about the value of education, Thao stated that the Hmong community recognized early on that education was the “key and the way out of poverty.” He mentioned that a phrase young Hmong American children consistently hear from their parents is “Rau siab kawm ntawv” or “work hard in school.”
Hmong American Community
Some of the barriers to better health and wellbeing for the Hmong community are high rates of unemployment and poverty, limited English ability and unaffordable medical costs. Over 12 percent of the Hmong community reported that they were uninsured.1 Hmong community members who participated in the project indicated that uninsured members at times seek medical care from Shamans to alleviate their physical and mental health issues (See side bar). Hmong American families also use herbal remedies and may conduct healing ceremonies in the hospital and in the home. In addition, community members indicated that surgery and organ donation may not be acceptable as treatment for medical ailments and some members of the Hmong community believe that certain Western medicines may poison them, rather than help them.
While Hmong community members value physical activity, especially low-impact exercises such as gardening and walking, many Hmong community members identified the traditional diets as a health issue that needed to be addressed in the community. Hmong Americans have among the highest obesity rates in comparison to other AAPI ethnic groups (Figure 3). White rice and fatty meats are considered a staple for many Hmong families while vegetables are often cooked with the meats and not eaten raw. “Hmong people, in general, don’t know what food is nutritional and what is good for the body, but through word of mouth, more people are learning about it,” said a Hmong community member during his key informant interview.
1 Council of Asian-Pacific Minnesotans (CAPMN). 2012. The State of Asian Pacific Minnesotans: 2010 Census and 2008-2010 American Community Survey Report. St. Paul, MN.
2 Pierce PhD, Alexandra. 2010. Health Disparities in Southeast Asian and African Refugee Communities. Produced for the CAPI – Center for Asian and Pacific Islanders. Minneapolis, MN.
REACH CORE Radio Talk Show:
Guest P. Vang: Yes. A few have medical insurance. However, there are others who do not have medical insurance due to unemployment or is not eligible to apply for medical insurance through the state.
Host Yang: Without getting access to medical coverage, is there anything else to help you with your health, or are you still looking for resources to help you with this area?
Guest P. Vang: Yes, we do need help. There are those who are in severe pain and in critical conditions who don’t get access to healthcare and don’t get treated due to the lack of medical coverage. Therefore, the only alternative our Hmong communities fall back on is to perform cultural practices; such as performing spiritual activities from a Shaman. Plus, if evil spirits is the cause of the person’s sickness, then “spirit calling/healing” from a Shaman would work. However, if the cause of the sickness is due to diseases, then it is necessary to seek a physician and be hospitalized.