Substance Abuse


Smoking prevalence is high among Native Hawaiians and particularly among other Pacific Islander populations. For example, the prevalence of smoking among Samoan and Chuukese men is reportedly greater than 50% (Lew, 2004). Data on elder-specific rates of smoking is limited. Among Native Hawaiian elders, compared to Caucasian elders, a higher percentage of Native Hawaiian elders reported smoking every day or some days (14.2% versus 8.9% respectively) (Salvail Salvail FR et al, 2003). By contrast, Native Hawaiian elders were at overall lower risk for binge drinking (defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion) or heavy drinking (more than two drinks per day for men, one drink per day for women) than Caucasian elders (Salvail FR et al, 2003).

Methamphetamine use is reportedly higher among Native Hawaiians living in Hawaiii (Joint House-Senate Task Force on Ice and Drug Abatement, 2004). Unfortunately little is known of the risk of methamphetamine or other illegal substance abuse in the elder population. Recent reports from at least one Native Hawaiian homestead community have cited illegal drug use in their community as negatively impacting the elderly population because they often own the residence where illegal drug use or transactions are occurring (Kekauoha, July 2004)



  • Other Pacific Islanders have a high prevalence of smoking. A lower percentage of Native Hawaiian elders report smoking every day or some days compared to Caucasian elders, although by contrast, binge drinking among Native Hawaiian elders is lower than Caucasian elders.
  • The availability of data on illegal substance abuse among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander elders is limited although these elders may be negatively affected by high rates of illegal substance abuse among other family members.