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Alcohol Awareness Month: Acculturation and alcoholism among Latinos

Alcohol Awareness Month: Acculturation and alcoholism among Latinos

April 24 | By Rachael

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) conceptualized Alcohol Awareness Month (AAM) in April 1987 to highlight issues related to alcoholism, including its causes, treatment and recovery. Every year in April, the NCADD, through its National Network of Affiliates and other support groups, focuses on addressing issues related to alcohol abuse in the nation by means of extensive media campaigns, awareness drives and local community outreach programs.

The problems arising out of alcohol abuse have increased tremendously. As per the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.1 million American adults aged 18 and older, representing 6.2 percent of the age group, suffered from alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol abuse leads to serious medical and socio-economic issues for affected individuals and their families.
The rate of alcohol abuse varies across the country based on factors such as gender, age and ethnicity. Latinos are the principal ethnic minority group in America, constituting 17.6 percent of the total population as of July 2015. Acculturation, a process by which individuals adapt to the values and traditions of another culture, brings its own share of challenges and puts additional pressure on immigrants. The stress of rapid cultural changes along with a liberal drinking environment may lead to increased alcohol use, particularly among adolescent Latinos.

Acculturation exposes immigrant Latinos to social conditions more favorable to alcohol use

Past research shows that a higher level of acculturation is associated with increased alcohol use. Latinos start embracing American customs and social practices, which may be more conducive to alcohol use than customs of their native countries. Adolescent Latinos are at a higher risk of developing a problem with alcohol, possibly due to the following reasons:

  • While immigrant parents deal with the social and economic issues of a new culture, their children adapt to American culture quickly and this commonly includes consuming alcohol.
  • Several parents who are not acculturated depend on their offspring to assist them in imbibing the new culture, which possibly increases stress among children and leads to family discord. Family-induced stress, along with adolescents’ attempts to integrate with non-Latino peers, may lead to risky practices such as underage drinking and drunkenness.
  • Many American adolescents tend to distance themselves from their parents as they grow up. This puts added pressure on Latino/Latina youngsters to also disengage from close-knit familial ties and native customs.

Similarly, higher levels of acculturation have been associated with a higher probability of alcohol use among Latina women and more-than-average quantities and recurrent intoxication. Traditionally, Latina women do not consume alcohol other than during close family get-togethers or private occasions. However, drinking is a normal part of the culture for American women and this plays an important part in the adoption of drinking habits by Latina women.

Acculturation and drinking rates vary among various Latino sub-groups differentiated on basis of country of origin. Past research shows that Mexican-origin adolescents residing in the country for 11 or more years have meaningfully higher rates of alcohol use and binge drinking than Mexican-origin adolescents living for 10 or less years, indicating the effects of acculturation. Americans of Puerto Rico origin have a higher prevalence of alcohol consumption, including higher levels of drunkenness than Americans of Cuban descent. It indicates the possibility that Cubans receive higher social support after migrating than Puerto Ricans.

More research is needed to assess impact of acculturation on substance abuse

With Latinos expected to comprise 29 percent of the U.S. population by 2060, their health and welfare demands greater focus. A better understanding of acculturation – which significantly influences the risk of alcohol misuse – as well as its consequences, may help in preventing substance abuse and addiction among Latino immigrants, especially adolescents and women.

Timely intervention is critical in dealing with addiction to any substance before it becomes unmanageable. If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, contact the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help for guidance on the best facilities in alcohol addiction treatment in Colorado. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-592-9261 or chat online with our representatives to know about some of the finest alcohol addiction treatment centers in Colorado.