What is the view of Hispanics towards alcohol use disorder?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Hispanics, who now make up 17% of the American population and who are 50 million in number, overall drink less than non-Hispanic white people. For example, only 54.5% of Hispanic people over 18 had one drink in the last year, as compared to 70% of non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics have high rates of abstinence from alcohol (31.8%), compared to non-Hispanic whites (of whom 15.5% are abstainers).However, those Hispanics who drink tend to drink more. 

Those Hispanics who are more acculturated into American society tend to drink more than other Hispanics, and Hispanic men tend to drink more than Hispanic women. In addition, Hispanic men who are born in the U.S. and who are not Protestant tend to have what the NIH reports is a "relaxed attitude" towards drinking. This attitude is predictive of being more likely to drink, drinking heavily, and having alcohol-related problems.

In addition, drinking patterns vary by the country where people came from; Puerto Rican men in the U.S. tend to drink more than Mexican men or Cuban men in the U.S., for example. The NIH reported that Puerto Ricans and Mexicans have a more permissive view of using alcohol. In addition, Puerto Ricans have the highest rate of poverty, which increases their risk of alcohol use disorder. On the other hand, Cuban-Americans have the lowest rate of alcohol use disorder among Hispanics (see the link to the journal article from Oxford University Press, below, and cited as a source). 

About 9.5% of Hispanics will develop alcohol dependence over their lifetimes, as compared to 13.8% of non-Hispanic whites. However, among Hispanics who develop alcohol dependence, 33% have recurring problems, as compared to 22.8% of whites with alcohol dependence. In addition, Hispanic men tend to develop liver problems at high rates than others. These problems could be caused or worsened by the fact that Hispanics do not tend to seek treatment for alcoholism. They are less likely to seek help than non-Hispanic whites are, and they are less likely to join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 

Source:

Incidence of Alcohol Use Disorders Among Hispanic Subgroups in the USA by Carlos F. Ríos-Bedoya, Diana Freile-Salinas DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agu032 549-556 First published online: 12 June 2014.