Race and Trends in Alcohol Use

As much as we try to deny differences between different races of people, there are some characteristics that tend to run along ethnic lines. The benefit to identifying these tendencies is that it can help determine where help, education, and prevention are needed most.

SAMHSA Study on African American Drinking

A new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found differences between African Americans and other ethnic groups when it comes to alcohol abuse. African Americans have a lower drinking rate in general – 44% compared to 55.2% of the rest of the population. And they are much less likely to binge drink (25.3% compared to 41.6%) than the general public. However, the rate of illegal drug use among African American adults (9.5%) is slightly higher than the rest of the country (7.9%).

Past studies have also found that the consequences for minorities, including African Americans, that abuse alcohol are often more severe than for other groups. Minority groups are more likely to suffer health problems, legal consequences, and injury because of alcohol consumption.

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The SAMHSA study also found that even though they drink less and do it less often, more African Americans are in need of addiction treatment. And among those that do enter treatment, minority groups are less likely to complete a program or see favorable results from the treatment program.

Giving Help to Different Groups

The purpose of these studies is not to simply point out differences between groups of people, but to determine the best way to provide help and prevention techniques. Maybe more education could focus on helping young African Americans stay safe and avoid negative situations when drinking socially, or where to go for help when someone is suffering from addiction. More education should be geared toward Caucasians and college students who are known for dangerous binge drinking.

A little education can go a long way. Programs can be offered in schools, at community centers, and through churches or social organizations. Any group of people that is found to be at a higher risk for substance abuse or to suffer consequences because of substance abuse should be the focus for more prevention campaigns.

Treatment is also vital for different groups of people. For those that have a hard time succeeding in an outpatient treatment program, other programs including residential or more intense outpatient treatment, should be encouraged. For those in low income areas, or those that do not have access to proper addiction treatment, efforts should be made to offer programs in these areas. Studies like the SAMHSA one help determine the best way to offer both prevention techniques and substance abuse help when needed.

Sources

African-American and Hispanic alcohol abusers need more residential alcohol treatment

Study: Blacks Drink Less, But More Likely to Use Illicit Drugs

Alcohol and drug abuse, flu shots and lactose intolerance

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