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Social Determinants of Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Problems Among Urban Aboriginal Adults in Canada Open Access


Other title
Prescription Drugs
Racial Discrimination
Illicit Drugs
Post Traumatic Stress
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Currie, Cheryl
Supervisor and department
Wild, T Cameron (School of Public Health)
Examining committee member and department
Veugelers, Paul (School of Public Health)
Parlee, Brenda (Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Native Studies)
Stewart, Sherry (Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University)
Schopflocher, Donald (School of Public Health, Faculty of Nursing)
Laing, Lory (School of Public Health)
School Public Health Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Objective: Little is known about the determinants of addictive disorders within the rapidly growing urban Aboriginal population in Canada. The objectives of this dissertation were to examine whether Aboriginal enculturation, Canadian acculturation, and racial discrimination were associated with addictive problems among urban Aboriginal Canadians, and to test potential mediators of these associations. Methods: Data were collected via in-person surveys and interviews with two community-based samples of Aboriginal adults living in a mid-sized city in western Canada. Sample 1 was recruited in 2008-09 and included Aboriginal university students (N = 60). Sample 2 was recruited in 2010 and included urban Aboriginal adults more generally (N = 381). Results: Both samples evidenced high levels of Aboriginal enculturation and Canadian acculturation. In Sample 1, Aboriginal enculturation served as a protective factor for alcohol use problems. In Sample 2, Aboriginal enculturation served as a protective factor for illicit and prescription drug problems, as well as a resilience factor that buffered the effects of low educational attainment on illicit drug problems in this population. The protective impacts of enculturation on illicit and prescription drug problems were partially explained by elevated self-esteem among urban Aboriginal participants who were more highly enculturated. Canadian acculturation was not statistically associated with alcohol or illicit drug problems and served as a risk factor for prescription drug problems among urban Aboriginal participants. Racial discrimination served as a risk factor for prescription drug problems and gambling problems. Mediational analyses indicate the impacts of racial discrimination on addictive outcomes were explained by elevated PTSD symptomology among those experiencing high levels of discrimination. These associations could not be explained by statistical adjustment for factors such as separation from birth parents in childhood, abuse in childhood, and exposure to poverty over the life course. Conclusions: Findings support the growth of programs and services that encourage Aboriginal peoples to maintain their culture within the urban setting. Results also support policies and programs to reduce racism directed at Aboriginal peoples in urban areas, and services to help Aboriginal peoples cope with these experiences.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Currie CL, Schopflocher DP, Wild TC, Laing L, Veugelers P, Parlee B, McKennitt D. Enculturation and alcohol use problems among Aboriginal university students. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2011; 56(12): 735-42.

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