Who Hit the Sauce the Hardest?

Alcohol abuse rates and consequences vary based on gender race and neighborhood

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Alcohol abuse cannot be generalized by one factor like gender, race or economic status. Interventions and treatment plans need to target high-risk groups for the best outcome.

A recent study gathered national data on 13,864 diverse populations in America.

Results found that black and Hispanic men and white women from disadvantaged neighborhoods were at the highest risk for alcohol abuse.

"Seek treatment for alcohol abuse."

Katherine J. Karriker-Jaffe, PhD, from the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, California, led an investigation into alcohol abuse by neighborhoods.

For the study, 13,864 men and women of white, black and Hispanic decent over the age of 18 were randomly selected from economically different neighborhoods for analysis.

Researchers used data from the 2000 and 2005 National Alcohol Surveys and the 2000 Census to gather information.

Neighborhood disadvantage was determined by socioeconomic status, which was defined by education, employment and income/financial assets.

Heavy drinking was calculated, along with two or more of the 15 negative alcohol-related consequences. These include, legal problems, workplace trouble, health consequences and so forth, all due to alcohol.

Results of the study showed that 7,493, or 54 percent, of the group were drinkers. A total of 23 percent had household incomes below $20,000, and 15 percent were above $80,000.

Black and Hispanic males from disadvantaged neighborhoods were most likely to be heavy drinkers. Black men and white women had the highest rates of negative alcohol-related consequences.

The wealthier counterparts of these subgroups did not have the same levels of negative alcohol-related consequences.

Researchers could only speculate to the reasons for the results, suggesting further study would be necessary to isolate reasons for alcohol abuse in order to effectively target interventions and treat alcohol abuse.

Dr. Karriker-Jaffe said, “There are a lot of aspects of your environment that can affect your drinking behavior and what happens when you do choose to drink. This [study] can help us figure out strategies to reach the most at-risk people

This study was published in October in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Funding for this research was provided by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. No conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 21, 2012
Last Updated:
October 23, 2012