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What is the view of Hispanics towards alcohol use disorder?

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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). 


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

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   What are views of Hispanic culture on alcohol use disorders?

Typically, sociologists studying alcohol use disorders (AUD) among Hispanics, the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., have treated this group as a heterogenous unit, which is misleading given that cultural difference among the subgroups correlate to diverse incidences of AUD. For example, a study by Rios-Badoya and Freile-Salines, revealed that Puerto Ricans and Mexican-Americans demonstrate the highest incidences of AUD, whereas Cuban-Americans and South/Central Americans have significantly lower rates. The reasons for these variations can be attributed to several factors, including cultural attitudes towards drinking. A case in point: in Puerto Rico, views on alcohol consumption are even more liberal than U.S. attitudes, which means that this subgroup might more easily gravitate towards AUD under environmental stress factors like acculturation problems to a new lifestyle or struggles to find appropriate work. Similarly, Mexicans culturally embrace 'fiesta drinking', which corresponds to less frequent but very heavy drinking, resulting in a predisposition for AUD. Furthermore, compared to other subgroups, a large percentile of the Mexican-American population is here illegally in the pursuit of a better life, a psychological stress which could increase the risk of AUD. In contrast, many Cuban-Americans are political refugees with more privileged social status/economic backgrounds/education levels, which often equates to a resistance to AUD. Thus, views of Hispanic culture on alcohol use disorders vary across subgroups and in response to the specific immigrant experience and socio-economic status each holds. 

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Describe the hispanic culture views on alcohol use disorder.

It's hard to generalize about attitudes towards alcohol use disorder, or the prevalence for alcohol abuse, across all Hispanic groups. For example, statistics from the National Institutes of Heath's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that predisposition towards alcohol abuse, and for getting treatment, varies depending on a number of factors, including nationality, the level of cultural asimilation, language, and others. For example, acculturated Hispanic females are more prone to alcohol use than non-acculturated females. A Michigan State University study found that, while Hispanics are stereotypically thought of as more at risk for alcohol use disorders, some groups (Cuban-Americans, for example) are much less likely to abuse alcohol while others (Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans) are much more likely. A 2014 study (Ríos-Bedoya and Freile-Salinas, "Incidence of Alcohol Use Disorders Among Hispanic Subgroups in the USA," linked below) concluded that "the practice of categorizing Hispanics as a homogenous ethnic group … is not only inappropriate, but also hinders a better understanding" of how to develop effective prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation methods.

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