Johanna Figueroa

Getting to the Root of It: Deconstructing Alcoholism in the Salvadoran Diaspora Community

Alcoholism among Latino immigrant men living in the U.S., much like other social issues in Public Health, has been analyzed and treated through behavior model theories focused on improving the will and self-efficacy of the individual. Various literature also reduces the causes of alcoholism to the cultural values within this ethnic group. These perspectives, while dominant in the field of Public Health, may overlook deeper understandings of why alcoholism issues are present in Latino immigrant communities. They often do not incorporate the lived experience, nor how environments impact an individual, and manifest in the body through coping mechanisms such as alcoholism. This study uses a critical interpretive approach through qualitative interviews and focus groups to better understand the structural factors which underlie alcoholism in Salvadoran immigrant men in the U.S, specifically targeting those who have immigrated from the community of Reubicación Número Uno, El Salvador to the Southern California area. An analysis of these interviews will reveal how historical, political, and economic forces including colonialism contributed to this sensitive issue, the function of alcohol to assist in the reproduction of power dynamics, and the Salvadoran immigrant perception of their own experiences. Furthermore, this study aims to identify community based strategies that includes structural factors into account to incorporate more holistic approaches to treatment. It contributes to the limited body of research of structural analyses of health in regards to the Salvadoran experience.